2015 strains on NHS A&E waiting times
Recent reviews on the NHS across the UK suggest that A&E waiting times are exceeding the target set nationally. The target set was a maximum four hour A&E waiting time, for at least 98% of patients. After the changes to the targets set nationally in 2010 (lowering them too 95% from 98%) the results from the most recent quarter of statistics show a rise in average patient waiting time, and a fall in the percentage of the time that the target is achieved.
Figures in the latest quarter show the level of performance dropping to the lowest it has been in the last ten years throughout the UK. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, was quick to point out that the A&E standards in the U.K are very high in comparison to standards set by other health institutions located across the world – “Targets matter but not at any cost. The priority is to treat people with dignity and respect.” The targets that the NHS works too have become increasingly difficult to achieve since the middle of 2014, where the target has been missed on almost a weekly basis, except for one week at the end of August.
Performance therefore has dropped all over the UK, there are statistics that show England has a better performance than other parts of the UK such as Wales and Northern Ireland. With Northern Ireland only seeing 80.5% of their patients within four hours, and Wales only seeing 83.8% of theirs within the given target. Given this information it demonstrates how most of the UK is missing the targets set by the NHS.
Further indications of the pressure placed upon the NHS are the fact that a number of hospitals in the UK are declaring “Major incidents” status lately, this status means that they are facing pressure higher than normal and need more staff to cope with the strains. Routine operations may also begin to be cancelled in order to allow emergency care to continue at a high standard.
“When patients are left waiting to be seen in A&E departments for an extended period, this increases the risk of a patient receiving a delayed diagnosis. This can have a significant impact on the patient’s condition.
“In addition, when A&E staff, nurses and doctors are faced with extra pressures, it can lead to misdiagnosis and patients being wrongly sent home without the correct treatment or further analysis. Both of these examples can lead to clinical negligence and exacerbated health problems.”
To prepare for the upcoming winter, the Government has set aside a huge sum of £700m extra to help the NHS cope, this allows the opportunities to hire 1000 additional doctors, 2000 nurses and a further 2000 staff that work within communities.