A&Es handling the most serious emergency cases across London are missing crucial waiting time targets, new analysis has shown. Not a single one of the capital’s NHS Trusts running A&E departments hit the government’s target – to see 95% of patients within four hours – in January of this year. King George Hospital and Queens Hospital A&E departments only saw patients within four hours 74.3% of the time, which is below the English average of 77.6%. Labour Londonwide Assembly Member, Tom Copley, said the London wide figures were “the worst on record” and measures announced in this week’s budget would “barely scratch the surface” of the problem.
The government’s 95% target includes patients at A&E, specialist, and urgent care centres. However, the latest NHS data shows that in January of this year not a single hospital A&E department (excluding specialist and GP led urgent care centres) hit this target. In fact, only two trusts saw patients within 4 hours more than 85% of the time. This is the worst ever monthly performance recorded in London. King George Hospital, earmarked for closure and Queens Hospital A&E are part of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals..
Across London, patients were kept waiting for more than four hours on 55,360 occasions. This is 40% higher than January 2016, despite fewer numbers of people coming to A&E overall. In Havering and Redbridge, figures for King George Hospital and Queens Hospital patients spent more than four hours before being seen on 5,247 separate occasions, an increase of 34% since January 2016. In total, patients in London waited longer than four hours on over half a million separate occasions between January 2016 and January 2017.
Despite these pressures, there are further cuts in the new Sustainability and Transformation Plans, which are expected to leave a £4.3 billion shortfall by 2021. A&E departments at Ealing, Charing Cross and King George hospitals have been earmarked for closure, whilst there are proposals to close one of the five acute hospitals in South West London, all of which run A&E departments. Mr Copley said it “isn’t viable” to expect Trusts to meet growing pressure whilst simultaneously cutting their funding.
The worst performing trust was London North West Healthcare which saw just 50.7% of patients within the four hour target in January 2017, followed by the Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at 51.2%.
Londonwide Labour Assembly Member, Tom Copley AM, said
“These figures are the worst on record. Plans for further closures need to be urgently reconsidered or this situation is only going to get worse.
“The NHS, local councils and adult social care are under extreme financial pressure. But pursuing A&E and hospital closures before better alternatives are in place will not rectify the situation.
“The Budget announcements from the Chancellor on social care will barely scratch the surface in terms of the increasing need and pressure that councils are under. As for the commitment to put more GPs into A&Es, he seems to be oblivious that we are already facing a severe shortage of qualified GPs, particularly in London.
“The government’s unrelenting squeeze on the NHS must stop. Expecting Trusts to meet growing pressure whilst cutting their funding just isn’t viable. Our NHS needs to be properly funded and supported – the government needs to take action and they need to take it now.”
- The formal government target of 95% within 4 hours applies to A&E (Type 1), specialist (Type 2) and urgent care (Type 3);
- There were 242,382 attendances at London A&Es in January 2016, compared to 241,867 in January 2017;
- In January 2016 there were 39,170 cases of patients waiting more than 4 hours. In January 2017 this was 55,360;
- From January 2016 to January 2017 (inclusive) there were 530,218 occasions of patients waiting for more than 4 hours;
- In January 2017 there were 5,247 occasions when patients were left waiting for more than four hours in King George.
- The government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans, and the expected funding gap for each, can be found below:
North Central STP funding gap: £876m (see p44)
North East STP funding gap: £336m (see p3)
North West STP funding gap: £1.4bn (see p4)
South East STP funding gap: £934m (see p4)
South West STP funding gap: £828m (see p43)
- Cumulatively, this could leave a shortfall of approximately £4.3 billion by 2021;
- More information on proposals to close Ealing and Charing Cross A&E departments are set out in the executive summary of the North West STP;
- Proposals to close King George’s A&E department are set out on page 21 of the North East STP;
- Proposals to close one of five acute hospitals in South West London are also set out on page 28 of the South West STP;
- Tom Copley is a Londonwide Assembly Member.