‘WORST WINTER’ FOR A&E
700,000 will wait more than 4 hours
HOSPITALS are facing the worst winter ever – with more than 700,000 patients in England alone set to wait longer than four hours in A&E.
The NHS aims to admit or discharge 95% of patients within four hours of arriving in emergency departments.
But the Health Foundation expects the number of patients seen in this time frame could fall to 87% between January and March – which would be the worst quarterly performance since records began in 2004.
The charity said hospitals are now struggling to meet this target all year round, not j ust in winter when pressures are traditionally worse.
Unl ess th e trend of recent years is significantly improved, 735,000 patients will wait longer than four hours, it estimates. That would be a 311% rise compared to winter 2010/11.
The Foundation estimated the NHS will need at least £360million extra funding this winter in order to meet this target. It said unless the trend of recent years is significantly improved, it could potentially see the worst performance ever against the four-hour target.
Adam Roberts, of the Health Foundation, said: “With temperatures already dropping, it seems clear the NHS will be relying on the hard work of its staff to get it through the additional pressures of winter this year.
“There has already been substantial action taken, but unless this significantly improves the trend of recent years, our projections give an idea of how much money it might take for the NHS to deliver what the Government has asked of it.”
The Health Foundation, plus The King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust, have previously warned the Chancellor shoul d al lo cat e an ad ditional £4billion to the NHS next year to stop patient care from deteriorating. Dr Nick Scriven, of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “The NHS has not recovered from last winter and we have a disillusioned workforce being asked to do more with less.
“We face turmoil if the system comes under pressure – it simply does not have the capacity.”
PRESSURE Hospitals at breaking point this winter