WEEKLY national figures from NHS England yesterday showed it has missed the four-hour A&E waiting time target for the 28th consecutive week.
The proportion of patients seen within the government maximum of four hours at A&E departments in England is below the target of 95% again. This has not been met since September 28.
NHS England said 92.5% of patients spent four hours or less from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge in the week ending April 12.
The number increased from 19,485 patients for the middle week of April 2014 to 32,480 for the same week this year. Meanwhile, the number waiting on trolleys up to 12 hours for a ward bed has doubled from 3,551 to 7,434 patients last week.
Andy Burnham, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: ‘Under David Cameron, A&Es across England are operating at their very limits and at least one, in Worcester, has clearly gone beyond them.’
Burnham added: ‘David Cameron caused this A&E crisis by making it harder to get a GP appointment, cutting care budgets to the bone and wasting £3bn on a damaging reorganisation. If he gets back in, extreme Tory spending cuts mean they can’t protect the NHS and the crisis in A&E will get even worse.’
The problems in Worcester are happening across the NHS, says Unison.
The union said yesterday: ‘Bad planning, a desperate lack of funds and the ever-growing demand on NHS services led to the crisis situation in Worcestershire Royal Hospital last week, which saw the West Midlands Ambulance Service forced to deploy its “disaster doctor” to help relieve the pressure on the hospital’s overwhelmed A&E department.’
Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health, said: ‘When the ambulance service is forced to draft in a doctor that it only usually calls upon when there’s been a major disaster just to help on a normal day in Worcester’s under-pressure A&E department, it’s clear that things have gone horribly wrong.
‘It’s no wonder that a recent Unison survey suggests that long hours, staff shortages and the mental demands of the job mean nine in ten (91 per cent) of ambulance workers say they are suffering with stress.
‘And as the ambulances stack up outside A&E departments unable to deliver their patients, the whole system slows down – and in the case of Worcester almost grinds to a halt.
‘With the election now under three weeks away, sorting out the many problems this government has helped create in the NHS is the issue uppermost in voters’ minds.
‘Despite all its assurances, ministers simply haven’t put enough money into the NHS. We are now beginning to see what happens when you starve the health service of the cash it needs.
‘Patients are being left for hours on end – sometimes not even able to get inside the A&E department because there are so many people waiting ahead of them. This isn’t what you’d expect from a 21st century healthcare system – patients and staff deserve much better.