Commenting on data published today by NHS England, Tim Gardner, Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation, said:
'Today’s figures show 2017/18 was the worst year on record for A&E departments, with performance against the four hour target falling to its lowest levels since records began in 2003/04 and a substantial increase in the number of patients needing to be admitted as a matter of emergency.
The year-long picture revealed today is a result of the combination of funding pressures, increasing demand from more patients with more complex conditions and a lack of capacity in primary and social care services, not simply the result of a long and difficult winter.
Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff continue to go to huge efforts to maintain standards of care in the most challenging of circumstances, but this is unsustainable.
There is no single solution for the growing pressures being felt in emergency departments up and down the country. Priorities must be funding social care and plugging workforce gaps in health and social care in the short term. In the medium term, there needs to be more predictable investment and attention to planning. With that in mind the prime minister’s recent commitment to long-term funding for the NHS is encouraging to halt obvious deteriorations in A&E performance.'
Notes to editors
- There were 23.9m A&E attendances (all type) in 2017/18, up by around 515,000 from 2016/17 and 4.8m from 2007/08.
- Annual A&E performance in 2017/18 was 82.4% in major A&Es and 88.4% across all types of A&E department, down from 83.7% and 89.1% respectively in 2016/17 and the lowest performance since records began in 2003/04.
- A&E performance in March 2018 was also the worst month since records began, with 76.4% of patients treated within four hours in major A&E departments and 84.6% treated in four hours across all types of A&E.
- There were over 6m emergency admissions in 2017/18 (an increase of 3.7% from 2016/17), with 4.4m of these going via major A&E departments (an increase of 4.7% from 2016/17).
- Around 614,000 patients waited over four hours in A&E from decision to admit to being admitted to a bed in 2017/18, up from around 560,000 in 2016/17 and also the highest number
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