New statistics released by NHS England have show record levels of attendance to accident and emergency units (A&E), in what is being called a ‘summer crisis’.
In July, the number of people going to A&E in England hit a record high of 2.27 million. The previous highest number of A&E attendances, 2.17 million, was in July 2018.
‘For the first time the winter crisis in A&E has merged straight into a summer crisis, with no sign of the usual summer recovery,’ said Richard Murray, Chief Executive at The King’s Fund.
‘For the second month in a row just four out of 119 major accident and emergency departments met the target for seeing 95% of patients within four hours. Whilst A&E departments are running hot, with the highest number of people attending A&E in a month on record, the number of people waiting for planned hospital treatment has now exceeded 4.5 million.
‘The proportion of people waiting more than 18 weeks to start treatment stands at the highest level in over a decade. Progress on bringing down the list of people waiting over a year to start treatment has also stalled.
Additionally, there were more people than ever before waiting for routine operations on the NHS in England – 4.4 million – in June. The government target is for 92% of patients to start treatment within 18 weeks - but only 86.3% did, meaning 600,000 people had to wait longer.
‘Last month almost 60,000 of the very sickest patients had to wait more than four hours for a hospital bed after a decision was made to admit them as an emergency, a third more than this time last year. And over 400 had to wait more than 12 hours on trolleys and chairs, a delay that is never supposed to happen in the NHS,’ said Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing.
‘Nursing staff performed heroics when last month’s heatwave meant that extra patients came to hospital with dehydration and respiratory problems – cash for new buildings is always welcome, but the NHS desperately needs more staff to cope with these peaks in demand.’