1 in 5 wait more than four hours at Queen’s and King George A&Es
- Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images
A worrying increase in people attending hospital A&E departments last month has led to patients facing longer and longer waits.
The most recent figures from NHS England show 21.3 per cent of A&E patients were still waiting to be admitted, discharged or transferred after four hours. This time last year the figure was 4.9pc.
The target set by the government is for no more than 5pc of patients to breach the four-hour time frame.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs King George and Queen’s hospitals, said more and more people were coming into its two emergency units.
BHRUT medical director Stephen Burgess said: “In October we saw 19pc more patients in our A&E at King George than the same month last year, and it was up 10pc at Queen’s.”
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The trust has received £4m of extra funding to cope with winter pressures and Mr Burgess added new measures, including more beds, for the elderly had been introduced.
Havering Clinical Commissioning Group has issued advice on when to attend A&E and the alternatives available.
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A&E waiting time performance for BHRUT has been historically poor, but the newest figures show the situation is worse than it was a year ago – one month before the trust was put into special measures following a highly critical Care Quality Commission inspection.
But a spokeswoman for the Department of Health insisted: “The NHS is performing well despite unprecedented demand and hospitals continue to treat the vast majority of people quickly, with around 2,000 more people every day seen within the four-hour target in A&E last year compared to 2010.”
The latest concerning figures sparked an attack by Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, who urged PM David Cameron to “get a grip” on the crisis.
“Under the Tories, hospitals in London are full to bursting,” he said.
Conservative MP for Hornchurch and Upminster, Dame Angela Watkinson, said BHRUT was working hard to cut waiting times despite high demand.
She said: “We have the highest number of older people of all the London boroughs in Havering. This means that A&E at Queen’s treats many older people with complex needs who require admission.” She added: “The volume of patients is the main challenge.”