More than a third of NHS foundation trusts missed the accident and emergency waiting targets in the last three months of 2012, marking a sharp decline in performance.
Data from the foundation trust regulator Monitor states that 32 foundation trusts breached national restrictions on long A&E waits in the three months to December 31 – up from just seven in the previous quarter, and 14 in the same period of the previous year.
Monitor said this meant that 36 per cent of foundation trusts with an emergency department had missed the target to admit or treat and discharge 95% of patients within four hours.
FTs told the regulator that the spike was due in part to expected additional demand during winter months, but also to “discharge delays due to problems accessing community care services” and “increased attendances among elderly people”.
Stephen Hay, managing director of provider regulation said: “There is a greater demand for A&E service across the NHS, but it is not acceptable that patients have to wait longer.
“Trusts need to work with local healthcare partners to understand and address these issues.”
The report also shows that large numbers of foundation trusts missed their planned savings targets in the latter half of the financial year, and that the sector’s savings performance deteriorated between September and December.
At the end of December nearly three quarters of all FTs were behind on their savings plans, with some reporting that extra activity had delayed their implementation.