Research by the Kings Fund has found that across England the NHS is missing key waiting time targets. Specifically:
- More people are waiting in ambulances to be transferred to A&E.
Because A&Es are full, more patients who arrive by ambulance are being forced to wait longer because A&Es are unable to admit them.
The number of handover delays over 30 minutes has doubled over the last three years from around 100,000 in 2010/11 to around 200,000 in 2012/13.
- More people are waiting longer than 4 hours in A&E.
The number who waited over four hours in 2012/13 has nearly trebled compared to Labour’s last year in office: for major A&E departments, 4-hour waits have increased from 345,000 in 2009/10 to over 888,000 in 2012/13.
The proportion of patients waiting longer than four hours in A&E is at its highest for 10 years.
- More people are waiting on trolleys in A&E to be admitted to hospital wards.
Where a decision has been made to admit a patient, these patients are waiting longer on trolleys in A&E because hospitals do not have the capacity to take them in – and this means that A&E is further clogged up.
Figures show that in 2012/13, 44,000 more patients waited longer than 4 hours on a trolley compared to 2011/12, and the numbers have more than doubled since 2009/10.
- Delayed discharges mean that patients are stuck in hospital beds.
A delayed transfer of care is where a patient is ready to be discharged, but cannot be – for example because the patient is waiting for community equipment and adaptations to be made before they can be sent back home.
The total days lost to delayed discharges from hospitals has increased from 55,332 days in August 2010 to 70,492 days in March 2013.
Commenting after Prime Ministers' Questions, Bridget Phillipson MP said:
"The government blamed snow on the tracks and the long winter for our stagnating economy. Now they're blaming GPs, immigrants and patients for the longest A&E waiting times in over 9 years.
"Instead of assigning blame the government should take responsibility and come forward with concrete proposals to deal with this crisis.
"I don't want our hospitals to go back to the bad old days under Tory governments when people waiting for hours on trolleys was the norm. Our NHS deserves better and patients deserve more from this government."