NHS chiefs have warned that the NHS waiting list has reached its highest level in a decade as the UK’s health service continues to miss targets. In fact it was two years ago that the NHS in England last met its target for A&E waiting lists.
Figures show that only 90.3% of patients spent as little as four hours in A&E in July of 2017. The target of 95% was last met in July of 2015.
John Appleby from the health charity, Nuffield Trust, has commented on the figures: “These figures show that the NHS continues to be systematically unable to meet its main targets,” said John Appleby, Nuffield Trust’s director of research and chief economist.
“The troublingly high rate of patients being held up leaving hospital is showing little sign of coming back under control, with delayed days at their highest ever level for the month of June.
“This puts the NHS on the back foot as we approach winter, with problems both at the ‘front door’ of A&E departments and at the ‘back door’, as hospitals struggle to send people home or onto further care.”
The emergency admissions for July 2017 topped half a million, which is only the third time since the first time since records began that numbers for July reached such a level.
There are a number of measures that contribute to the calculation of the missed targets.
“Delayed transfers of care” – also known as bed blocking – rose from 173,122 delayed days in June 2016 to 178,441 the following year. That represents an increase of 5,319 extra days.
Ambulance waiting times are one of the measures of success and in this regard NHS England has also missed its target by hitting only 68.8% of “Red 1” calls within eight minutes. “Red 1” calls refer to cases where the patient is unable to breathe or does not have a pulse.
The target for “Red 2” calls – for incidents such as strokes or fits – was also missed with only 61.8% of ambulances arriving within eight minutes.
Cancer patients were also affected with many being unable to receive treatment for the first two months after having been referred by their GP.
Lucy Schonegevel, from Macmillan Cancer Support, commented: “Waiting to start treatment is often an incredibly difficult time, and should not go on a moment longer than is necessary.
“The Government has made clear that tackling failed cancer waiting time targets is a priority, and we look forward to seeing a marked improvement in performance for the rest of the year.”