NHS Crisis Continues: Record A&E Attendances & Longest-Ever Waiting Times

In Healthcare, In The Press, Industry News by Paul Howell

New NHS data reveals record numbers of A&E patients, as well as the worst-ever waiting times for routine operations.

Furthermore, the number of operations being cancelled is also on the rise and the number of patients waiting on a trolley for more than 12 hours has also increased since last year.

According to the Society for Acute Medicine, the figures are a ‘broken record’ and warnings about the state of the health service are falling on ‘deaf ears’.

A total of 2,266,913 people went to emergency rooms in England last month – 160,000 more than in June; 4% more than in July 2018; and the highest figure for July since modern records began in August 2010.

Of these patients, 86.5% were seen within four hours. But while this represents a 0.6% increase over the same period last year, it still means that the health service’s target of 95% of patients being seen within four hours has been missed again (that’s four consecutive years now).

Across the country, the four-hour waiting target was hit by just four out of 119 major A&E departments – a reality that adds further weight to the argument to scrap the four-waiting target altogether, which is something the government is currently considering.

In total, 57,694 patients waited on a trolley for more than four hours, which represents an increase of 35% over July last year. It’s a similar story for this April, May and June, with those months’ figures at their highest since records began.

Over 600,000 patients waiting too long for surgery

In July, the number of people waiting for a planned operation exceeded 4.4 million (another record high and the fourth time in a row the number has increased).

In addition, the number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for planned surgery also reached its highest level for a decade – 13.7%, meaning 600,000 patients had to wait longer than they should for surgery. Many of these patients are waiting for operations such as hip or knee replacements or cataract surgery, with many experiencing daily pain and struggling to do everyday tasks. In the last quarter alone, 20,000 scheduled operations were cancelled – an increase of 6% over the same period last year.

Experts and unions alike said the record-breaking hot weather witnessed in July was a contributing factor in the surge of emergency room visits last month, with people becoming dehydrated and having difficulty breathing.

Speaking about the saddening health service figures, Dr Nick Scriven, of the president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “This broken record has been playing for so long now that our warnings about the crises engulfing the NHS barely have any impact on those at the top.”

The NHS remains a valuable service and considered by many to be a national treasure, but clearly the pressure on resources is growing.

Private Medical Insurance provides an excellent alternative to the NHS, particularly for routine procedures, with patients on average seeing a specialist consultant and receiving treatment within two weeks.

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I joined Premier Choice Group as an SME/Corporate Consultant in 2017 and look after the Healthcare & Protection needs of a nationwide portfolio. I began my career in Healthcare and Protection in 1985 with BUPA, before moving on to  Royal & Sun Alliance. In 2002, I became an Intermediary and worked with Private Clients, SME’s and Corporate clients on a local, national and international basis.