A&E waiting times at 9-year high

The number of patients having to wait more than four hours in A&E has reached its highest level in nine years.

The number of patients having to wait more than four hours in A&E has reached its highest level in nine years.

According to the health think-tank the King’s Fund, 313,000 people waited 240 minutes or more to be seen in the final quarter of 2012-13.

At 5.9 per cent of patients, this is the highest proportion since 2004 and a 40 per cent rise on the same period last year.

The analysis also found that almost 40 per cent of trusts had breached the waiting time target in the last quarter.Chief economist at The King’s Fund John Appleby said: “Emergency care acts as a barometer for the NHS.

“The worryingly high number of patients waiting longer than four hours in the last quarter of 2012/13 is a clear warning sign that the health system is under severe strain.”

The King’s Fund added that the proportion of patients waiting more than four hours before being admitted to hospital from A&E has risen to nearly 7 per cent – the highest level since 2004.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the report showing waiting times at a ten-year high “demolishes once and for all the Tory spin that the A&E crisis has nothing to do with them”.

“Two thirds of NHS leaders surveyed by the Kings Fund say the government’s cuts to local authority budgets are hitting the NHS, with more older people left without the care they need at home, and many others getting stuck in hospital beds at the end of their treatment.”

“Their arrogance and complacency in the face of a crisis is one of the greatest dangers the NHS faces.”

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