December A&E performance worst on record

DECEMBER 2019 saw the worst performance on record for A&E waiting times in England, with 79.8 per cent of patients cared for within the target four hours.

In real numbers this meant that 396,762 people were not treated within target, which is around 40,000 more than in the previous worst month (November) when 81.4 per cent were seen in four hours.

Director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Miriam Deakin, commented: "Today’s figures show just how severe the pressure is on health and care services this winter. Emergency care is under particular strain with increased levels of demand in A&E departments. We have once again seen performance against the four-hour standard slip to a record low. Yet frontline staff are working flat out to treat patients safely despite the huge pressures they face.

"We have also seen a worrying increase in the delays for patients between the decision to admit and admission – more than eight times as many patients waited over 12 hours this December compared to December last year. Having patients waiting in corridors or temporary beds in this way has risks for wider patient safety."

BMA emergency medicine lead, Dr Simon Walsh, said: "These figures are truly alarming and serve as yet further evidence that our NHS simply doesn’t have the resources, staff, or capacity to cope with rocketing demand.

"A priority for the Government must be to scrap the ridiculous punitive pension taxation system, which is forcing many doctors to cut their working hours. We need a long-term fix to this crisis so that doctors can get back to doing what they do best – caring for their patients."

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