Sharp rise in number of patients facing severe admission delays

13 Nov 18

NHS trusts are “already overstretched” as they enter the most difficult time of year, a health membership group has warned.

The number of patients waiting more than 12 hours in A&E in October soared by 272% compared with last year, NHS England data has shown.

The data released last week also showed that there were 48,650 patients waiting more than four hours between the decision to admit them and admission – a 7% increase on October 2017.

Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at the membership organisation NHS Providers, said: “These figures show that as we head into the most difficult time of the year, trusts are already overstretched.”

The NHS England data highlighted that the total number of people admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours was 1.837 million or 89.1% of the total in October.

This figure remained largely the same as last year, when 1.838 million were seen within four hours.

This represents a fall of 0.1%. Total A&E attendances increased by 0.9% from October 2017 to 2.06 million. Deakin said: “Staff have worked incredibly hard to maintain A&E performance against the four-hour target,” but added that “the number of patients facing severe delays after a decision to admit them has risen sharply”.

She said that despite extra funding for capital projects and social care, trusts have told NHS Providers that they fear this winter will be more difficult than the last.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents 85% of NHS providers and commissioners, said: “The truth is we face some tough choices and this is a service that cannot do everything.

Our biggest threat at the moment is raised expectations.

“It seems likely we are about to face yet another difficult winter, and the reality is come winter, spring, summer, or autumn, the NHS has not been able to meet key performance targets since 2015.”

NHS England data from February revealed that hospital bed occupancy hit a winter-high of 96%.

A recent poll found that members of the public believe extra funding for the NHS should be used to help meet the 18-week target for elective treatment.

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