Accident and Emergency delays continue to increase
A&E performance has continued to fall below government targets throughout England for the second month in a row.
Under current guidelines A&E departments must see 95% of patients within four hours. However, in February only 87.8% were. This was a drop on the January figures, which themselves were the worst figures since the targets were introduced in 2004.
A&E departments are facing continued pressure with increases in the number of patients attending A&E and a worrying shortage of doctors to cover shifts. This shortage is partly blamed on the recent cap on payments to locum doctors. This shortage has recently led to Chorley hospital closing their A&E department due to unsafe staffing levels. The department will be replaced by an urgent care service between 8am and 8pm. Patients needing emergency care will have to travel 14 miles
to the nearest A&E department.
Professor Mark Pugh, medical director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “We simply cannot staff the rotas and it is an unacceptable risk to patient safety to attempt to provide an emergency service with no doctors available to see people.”
A number of other services failed to meet targets, including the 111 service, ambulances and cancer services.
Despite missing these targets, there are signs of improvement with the number of patients waiting on trollys being halved.
Lee Raynor, a Clinical Negligence Lawyer at Michael Lewin Solicitors, commented: “A&E departments continue to face increasing pressures with the knock on effect being that patient safety suffers. It is worrying that departments are struggling to staff shifts at a safe level and if this continues we are likely to see even greater numbers of mistakes .”