Winter pressures continue to stretch hospital A&E departments

12 Feb 18

Figures published by NHS England reveal that A&E services continue to struggle to meet demand.

Increasing pressure on the health service over winter has continued, NHS England confirmed, with 81,000 patients failing to be treated within the four-hour target.

This number has continued to grow throughout the last three months, starting at 48,000 in November 2017 and jumping to 69,000 in December 2017.

Patients who had to wait 12 hours or more for treatment more than doubled since December, with the amount of patients rising from 500 to 1,043 this month, the figures also showed. 

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers, said: “These figures show there has been absolutely no let-up in the pressures on the NHS.

“Since the start of winter nearly 30,000 people have had to wait more than an hour.

“More generally, these figures are another clear sign of a system that is overstretched. We know the worst of winter may be yet to come.

“All of this points to the need for a long-term funding settlement for the NHS and social care to be reached.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents 85% of NHS providers added: “A&E is the visible tip of the iceberg.”

“The reality is the whole system from family doctors, community services, mental health and social care is not coping.”

Pressure on the NHS remains constant despite the introduction of emergency measures such as deferring all non-urgent operations earlier this year.

The deferral of all inpatient elective care to 31 January was a measure taken to pre-empt an increase in hospital admissions due to flu.

However, this year’s flu outbreak is one of the worst in recent years and this has put an added strain on the NHS.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “The government supported the NHS this winter with an additional £437m of funding, and gave it top priority in the recent Budget with an extra £2.8bn over the next two years.”

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