The NHS has posted its worst performance since targets were introduced more than a decade ago, with all 118 units falling below the 95% requirement in November.
The figures, which were released a day late because of the general election, plummeted to a record low last month with only 81.4% of patients being seen within four hours at emergency departments, against a target of 95%.
While the number of people waiting for more routine treatments, such as knee and hip replacements, was also at its highest-ever level, 4.45 million in October, with just 84.7% of patients are starting treatment within 18 weeks against a target of 92%.
The data also revealed there were 1,112 people waiting for a ward bed in A&E of more than 12 hours, again the highest number on record.
President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said patients are suffering as a result of years of under-resourcing.
She said: ‘Performance continues to plummet to record lows despite the best efforts of staff.
‘Our hospitals are near full and the number of patients needing to be admitted to a bed continues to rise year on year. Thousands of patients are staying longer than 12 hours in emergency departments each week.
‘Patients are suffering as a result of years of under-resourcing. We welcome the promises made on health spending by the new government. For the sake of our patients these promises must be turned into action, and now is the time to act.’
Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund said:
‘These sobering figures show the urgent need for the new Conservative government to make good on its promises to focus on our ailing health and care services.
‘National waiting time standards enshrined in the NHS Constitution have now been routinely missed for several years. In November, just seven out of ten patients attending major accident and emergency departments were seen within the four-hour waiting time target, the worst performance since these records began.
‘Sustained increases in the number of people needing treatment have not been matched by increases in staff or resources. Hospitals are constantly operating in the red zone, with NHS trusts struggling to cope with more than 100,000 vacancies.
‘Winter has only just begun, and the NHS is already stretched to breaking point. Increasing levels of flu and chronic staff shortages exacerbated by the ongoing pension crisis point to a torrid few months for the health service.
‘The new government made a series of promises to invest in NHS buildings and equipment, recruit and retain more staff and develop a plan for reforming social care. These performance figures underline just how urgently the new government needs to act on these pledges.’
The total number of A&E attendances in November 2019 was 2,143,336, an increase of 5.2% on the same month last year.
The operational standard for A&E waiting times is that 95% of patients should be admitted, transferred or discharged within 4 hours of their arrival at an A&E department.
An NHS spokesperson said: ‘These figures show that NHS teams across the country are providing a record-breaking level of care to the increasing numbers of people, at a time when norovirus and flu is having a greater impact on local services than last year.
‘That’s why it’s more important than ever for the public to help NHS staff by getting flu jabs, following advice on the NHS website if they have norovirus, using the NHS 111 phone or online service for advice on urgent medical needs, and consulting their local pharmacist for advice on minor ailments.’
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