BY TOBY PORTER
Rising numbers of patients are waiting for longer than four hours to be treated in A&E, according to new statistics released by the NHS.
In September this year, just 82.3 per cent of patients at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust waited less than four hours in A&E.
This meant that 2,560 patients had to wait more than four hours last month.
While the average for England was not much higher at 85.4 per cent, both were way off the NHS’s 95 per cent target.
Hospitals are expected to treat and discharge or admit or transfer a patient within the target four hours.
According to analysis by the BBC, this summer was the worst for A&E waiting times in England since the four-hour target was introduced.
In September 2018, St George’s in Tooting saw 90.3 per cent of patients within four hours, which was above average for the NHS, despite being below the overall target.
But this has since dropped significantly.
A spokesman for the trust said: “We want our services for patients to be as responsive as possible, and in recent years, our teams have delivered sustained improvements in access to cancer treatment, diagnostic tests and planned care.
“At present, our emergency care performance at St George’s is below the national target of 95 per cent, and we are working at pace to improve this.
Emergency Departments up and down the country are seeing increasing demand, and St George’s is no exception.
We are also seeing patients presenting to our Emergency Department (ED) with more acute
healthcare needs than previously.
“However, we are working hard to reduce waiting times, and to improve the experience of patients visiting our ED. We have opened a number of new ambulatory care units, which is helping to reduce pressure on our ED.
“We are also working with other clinical teams across the hospital, who play a crucial role in helping patients attending our ED get the specialist care they need.
“We continue to urge the public to use our services wisely, and to only access the ED at St George’s for
urgent, emergency care.”
Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust did not fare much better. Although it dealt with 86.2 per cent of patients within the target four hours this September (which was above average for the country), this was below figures in previous years.
Last month, 1,582 patients had to wait more than four hours in A&E. In September 2018, 88.4 per cent of patients were seen within four hours, while this figure stood at 90.7 per cent in September 2017.
Mairead McCormick, chief operating officer, Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Kingston Hospital has seen unprecedented attendances at A&E since the start of the new year.
“May saw the highest number of attendances in any one month (seven per cent increase in A&E attendance compared with last year; the national increase is 0.4 per cent).
“Despite this, the trust consistently achieves its other performance targets including referral to treatment and ambulance turnaround times, which releases the crews in a timely way to be able to response to emergency calls.
“There is a significant rise in working age adults attending A&E and the A&E Delivery Board (a meeting of local system partners including primary care, community providers, social care, mental health services, and ambulance services for Kingston, Richmond, and East Elmbridge) is seeking to gain greater clarity on the reasons behind the relentless and high number of attendees at the hospital’s A&E department.”