Number waiting over four hours in casualty soars by 40% in one year since targets were scrappedNumbers waiting over four hours soared to nearly 900,000 in 2010/11
The number of patients spending more than four hours in casualty has jumped 40 per cent in a year.
The figure rose to nearly 900,000 in 2010/11 compared with just under 600,000 in the 12 months before.
Last year the Government scrapped a target brought in by Labour that 98 per cent of A&E patients must be seen within four hours claiming it had ‘no clinical justification’. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley then brought in a new 95 per cent figure.
The number of patients waiting more than four hours in hospital accident and emergency departments has jumped by 40 per cent in a year
But a report by the NHS Information Centre shows that this new target has been missed – 5.6 per cent of patients waited longer than four hours last year.
A total of 891,916 were delayed for longer than four hours last year compared with 598,379 in 2009/10.
There is increasing evidence that waiting times across the NHS are now gradually creeping back up again having hit an all-time low. Higher numbers are facing longer delays for ultrasounds, CT scans and routine operations than was the case two years ago.
On the edge: Shadow Health Secretary, MP Andy Burnham, has accused the Government of pushing the NHS to 'the edge of a cliff'
Increasing financial strains coupled with confusion caused by the controversial health reforms are thought to be taking their toll on waiting times and overall patient care.
Andy Burnham, Labour’s health spokesman, accused the Government of pushing the NHS ‘to the edge of a cliff’.
He added: ‘One of the Health Secretary’s first acts on taking office was to downgrade Labour’s firm grip on A&E waiting times. Now the Government has even missed its own lower target. Labour left waiting times at a historic low, but the Government has thrown all this away.
‘This is exactly what we warned would happen when they relaxed waiting times targets and launched the biggest top-down costly reorganisation of the NHS.
‘This is a stark warning from a health service in increasing distress.’
A Department of Health spokesman said: 'The figures published today refer to
total time spent in A&E, including time waiting to be seen and time
taken to be treated.'
‘We are determined to improve the quality of care in accident and emergency. That is why we have developed quality indicators which measure what actually matters to patients – whether they are treated effectively at A&Es, as well as whether they are being treated in a timely way.’
Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said: ‘We do not want to go back to the days where clinical judgement was distorted by looming targets but, equally, patients should not have to wait for hours on end.’