700,000 will wait more than 4 hours

Daily Mirror - - NEWS - BY MARTIN BAGOT Health & Sci­ence Cor­re­spon­dent martin.bagot@mir­ror.co.uk

MORE than 700,000 pa­tients in Eng­land will wait longer than four hours in A&E as hos­pi­tals face the worst win­ter ever.

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 just in win­ter when pres­sures are tra­di­tion­ally worse.

Un­less the 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 that 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, the health ser­vice 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 should al­lo­cate an ad­di­tional £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, as it sim­ply does not have the ca­pac­ity.”

PRES­SURE Hos­pi­tals at break­ing point this win­ter

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