England

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Four-hour target slips further away

healthcare

Fewer than 85 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at emergency departments in England last month, a record low.

The figures apply to patients seen, admitted or discharged within four hours of presenting with symptoms.

The BMA said the figures are symptomatic of the pressures the NHS faces all year round.

The total of 84.6 per cent of patients seen in four hours compares to 90 per cent for same period in 2017, and is well short of the national target of 95 per cent.

BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said that the latest results showed the ‘unacceptable’ extent to which the health service was being pressured, and the necessity of credible, long-term investment.

He said: ‘Today’s new figures show that the “winter crisis” has truly been replaced by a year-round crisis. Emergency care waiting times have dropped to a record worst level in England and just 84.6 per cent of patients were seen in four hours – well below the 95 per cent target.

‘This is unacceptable and simply cannot become the new normal for the NHS. The Government’s approach of cash top-ups and short-term fixes will no longer do.  

‘Given the prime minister’s recent pledge for a long-term funding plan for the NHS, we need the Government to translate this into tangible action with new investment. Failure to do so will undermine the delivery of safe, high-quality and timely patient care.’

Other findings from the latest monthly performance figures have served to highlight the growing pressure on the health service.

During March this year, more than 76,000 patients had to wait more than four hours to be admitted after being approved for admission, a figure 77 per cent higher than the same period last year.

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