Long waits in A&E up by more than 500%

NHS data shows huge rise in four-hour ‘trol­ley waits’ since the Tories came to power in 2010

The Observer - - NEWS - By Toby Helm Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

Philip Ham­mond is un­der in­tense pres­sure to pump more money into the NHS in his bud­get this month, as new of­fi­cial fig­ures show the num­ber of peo­ple wait­ing more than four hours in A&E has soared by 557% since the Tories came to power in 2010.

The NHS data pub­lished last week, de­scribed as “stag­ger­ing” by Labour, shows the to­tal num­ber of pa­tients en­dur­ing “trol­ley waits” of more than four hours has risen from 6,932 in Oc­to­ber 2010 to 45,532 last month.

In ad­di­tion, Labour anal­y­sis of the fig­ures shows that dur­ing Theresa May’s first full fi­nan­cial year as prime min­is­ter, there were 565,956 in­stances of trol­ley waits last­ing more than four hours – the worst an­nual tally since records be­gan.

The fig­ures emerged af­ter the head of NHS Eng­land, Si­mon Stevens, last week took the highly un­usual step of in­ter­ven­ing to de­mand more cash for the ser­vice he runs. He called on min­is­ters to hon­our the pledge made by Leave cam­paign­ers dur­ing the Brexit ref­er­en­dum by ploughing £350m of sav­ings that Brexit sup­port­ers said would ac­crue from leav­ing the EU ev­ery week into health­care.

A tar­get for the num­bers forced to wait as long as four hours was in­tro­duced by Labour in 2004, ini­tially oblig­ing hos­pi­tals in Eng­land and to see and ei­ther ad­mit, trans­fer or dis­charge 98% of A&E pa­tients within that pe­riod.

How­ever, this was re­laxed by the coali­tion gov­ern­ment to 95% in 2010. That tar­get was ef­fec­tively – though not for­mally – scrapped by health sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt in Jan­uary this year, when he said the time would have to be re­vised to re­move nonur­gent cases. While the waits are known as trol­ley waits, the fig­ures also in­clude pa­tients wait­ing in side-rooms, seats in the A&E de­part­ment and spare cu­bi­cles be­fore be­ing ad­mit­ted to a ward. It is be­lieved that Hunt is now also ap­ply­ing heavy pres­sure be­hind the scenes on Ham­mond to pro­vide ex­tra money, amid warn­ings that the ser­vice is at breakin break­ing point. At a con­fer­ence of the Unite union to­mor­row, Labour’s shadow health sec­re­tary, Jon Ash­worth, will say that af­ter seven years of Tory-led gov­ern­ment, the NHS is “un­der­funded, over­stretched and un­der­staffed”. He will pledge that if Labour were in power it would pro­vide an im­me­di­ate ex­tra in­jec­tion of £6bn.

“Theresa May can­not be al­lowed to carry on ig­nor­ing the warn­ings about the state of the NHS,” he will say. “She will break the NHS un­less she acts in the bud­get. It’s as stark as that.”

Ham­mond is also fac­ing a cho­rus of de­mands to do more to boost house­build­ing and to help the in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple who can­not af­ford to buy a home but are forced to rent in the pri­vate sec­tor.

A new re­port by the cam­paign group Gen­er­a­tion Rent es­ti­mates that a mil­lion re­tired house­holds will be rent­ing pri­vately by 2035 com­pared with just 370,000 now. A sur­vey com­mis­sioned by the group finds that renters aged over 60 are now al­most twice as likely as those in their 20s to pre­fer rent­ing over home own­er­ship.

It says that an in­creas­ing num­ber of pen­sion­ers scram­bling to se­cure a home in the pri­vate rented sec­tor could send rents spi­ralling. Gen­er­a­tion Rent warns that, as a re­sult, the state would have to step in to make up any short­fall, a move that could see the hous­ing ben­e­fit bill bal­loon. Dan Wilson Craw, di­rec­tor of Gen­er­a­tion Rent, warned: “With most de­bates on hous­ing fo­cused on young adults, politi­cians risk ne­glect­ing the vast num­bers of peo­ple who are al­ready too old to get a mort­gage and face a life­time of rent­ing.”

David Adler, au­thor of the Gen­er­a­tion Rent re­port, said: “The longer, or worse, some­one’s rent­ing ex­pe­ri­ence has been,

‘Theresa May can­not be al­lowed to carry on ig­nor­ing the warn­ings about the state of the NHS’ Jon Ash­worth, Labour

the more likely they are to favour re­form of the rental sec­tor over an es­cape to owner-oc­cu­pa­tion. As the renter pop­u­la­tion ages, this pref­er­ence, and de­mands for re­form, will only in­crease.”

In a speech last week, Stevens warned that faith in democ­racy “will not be strength­ened” if Ham­mond ar­gues in his bud­get that eco­nomic tur­bu­lence caused by Brexit means that he can­not prom­ise ex­tra cash for the NHS.

Stevens said: “Rather than our crit­i­cis­ing these clear Brexit fund­ing com­mit­ments to NHS pa­tients – prom­ises en­tered into by cab­i­net min­is­ters and by MPs – the pub­lic want to see them hon­oured.”

Health ex­perts, char­i­ties and pres­sure groups have also de­manded ex­tra fi­nan­cial sup­port. Fol­low­ing a joint anal­y­sis of NHS fi­nances in Eng­land, the Health Foun­da­tion, the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust have cal­cu­lated that the NHS needs £4bn more next year to pre­vent pa­tient care from de­te­ri­o­rat­ing.

Jim Mackey, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the health reg­u­la­tor NHS Im­prove­ment, also said re­cently that the NHS could “pop” with­out ex­tra in­vest­ment. “If there is no more money in the bud­get, hon­estly I think we need to be sit­ting down and agree­ing pub­licly and as a col­lec­tive what’s ac­tu­ally pos­si­ble to de­liver within that re­source. We can’t do ev­ery­thing. I think what we need next is a broader de­bate about where we are all signed up to that de­pri­ori­ti­sa­tion if we don’t get more money.”

Ham­mond is com­ing g un­der grow­ing pres­sure to in­crease se NHS fund­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.