NHS staff have been praised for their ‘hard work’ in helping to meet the government’s four-hourly A&E waiting target during the last financial year.
According to Department of Health figures published on Friday, 98.1% of patients spent four hours or less from arrival in A&E to admission, transfer or discharge in the year ending March 2009.
In 2007-2008, the figure was 97.9% - just short of the 98% minimum standard set by the government in 2003.
The target has been met despite the number of people attending A&E continuing to rise, the department said. In 2008-2009, 19.6 million people went to A&E, a 2.4% increase on the previous year.
Health minister Ben Bradshaw, said: ‘This is a tremendous achievement by NHS staff who continue to deliver fast, safe, high quality care to a growing number of A&E patients, especially given that this winter was the most challenging for years.
‘Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, the waiting experience for millions of patients in A&E has dramatically improved,’ he added.