Health service regulator, Monitor has found that the number of NHS Trusts missing targets for patient waiting times in Accident & Emergency (A&E) has more than doubled. A&E departments continue to face increasing demand, with over a million additional visits made by patients in the last four years.
Between April and June 2013, 31 trusts failed to meet the target of seeing patients within four hours of their arrival at A&E. The number of trusts missing the target for the same period last year was 13. The results have led to concerns that A&E departments will be unable to cope as winter draws in, particularly as spring and summer are traditionally quieter periods.
The regulator's report states they "are concerned about waiting times… Long waits in A&E may result in patients experiencing unsatisfactory care." The report recommends that trusts must plan appropriately in preparation for winter and that it is essential they have the right funding in place to ensure that future challenges can be dealt with effectively.
Harriet Woodward, associate in the clinical negligence team, said: "These statistics are worrying. While some A&E departments are hitting their targets, we frequently see the impact of these types of delays. Patients in over-stretched A&Es often do not receive urgent treatment or a correct diagnosis. Trusts must plan properly for their busier times over the next few months to ensure that patients are seen quickly and provided with satisfactory care."