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Poor A&E performance symptom of stress on service, say unions

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The long-term failure of the NHS to meet the waiting time target for accident and emergency performance in England is a symptom of the strain services are under, unions have claimed.

The four-hour waiting time target for A&E has been missed for the 26th week in a row, according to latest figures published by NHS England.

For quarter four of 2014-15 – January to March – 440,961 patients waited longer than four hours in A&E overall. This is equivalent to 91.8% compared to the target, which is 95%.

They are the worst on record since the first quarter of 2004, when the target was first introduced.

Commenting on the latest figures, Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: “Week in week out, for half a year now, the waiting times target has been missed.

“It’s bad enough that some sick and injured people were having to wait for more than four hours in the depths of winter – a time when demand on the NHS was at its peak,” she said.

“But for that still to be the case now that spring is here shows just how stretched A&E departments have become,” she added.

Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These figures demonstrate what nurses have been telling us for some time – the so-called winter pressures are now lasting all year round.

“The ongoing strain on A&E departments is a symptom of problems elsewhere in the health service and it cannot be solved in isolation,” he said.

“A&Es are seeing more patients than ever before and this will continue to be the case unless there is sustained investment in community services, and a reversal of the cuts to staff like district nurses, who keep patients out of hospitals,” he added.

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • As well as more community nurses the out of hours GP service needs to be accountable for not attending patients or not having appointments. They often seem to have a default position of advising patients to attend A & E.

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  • Anyone having to wait for treatment is unacceptable, however the target is for people being admitted/discharged from A&E, this negative reporting fails to mention that many patients will have been seen and treatment started within the four hours, it also fails to comment on the 91.8% of patients who DID get seen & discharged/admitted within the target time.
    Times are hard in A&E, however constantly being told we are failing is not helpful.

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  • If A & E departments are closing those left open will have more workload that is common sense. People will stay there longer. The elderly (non drivers) where I live would be unable to get home at night as the taxi fare is £40, so I would be hanging around the unit getting in the way. Many of us know that statistics to close A & e were based on incorrect facts. Pts who waited 4 hrs were discharged and re booked in, or discharged before the treatment had been completed, if correct entries had been made more A & E might have remained open. Nurses who made incorrect entries will have to accept some responsibility for this. Lets re open the A & E, I expect where some A & E have closed the Chief Exec will be getting more money. Locally we have seen how accidents on the main road has increased dramatically and the births in cars and car parks increased along with the massive increase in traffic with people attending out patients and visiting relatives. OPEN UP THE CLOSED A & E , CHARGE DRUNKS FOR THEIR CARE AND INSIST PARENTS COLLECT THERE CHILDREN (UNDER 21) FROM A & E AND LOOK AFTER THEM

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