According to a BBC report, the NHS in England ALONE saw 23 million people visit Accident and Emergency departments across the UK last year (March 2015-16). Based on the previous year’s figures, NHS England saw an increase of 500,000 visitors – which ultimately has increased delays and waiting times.
March 2016 in particular was a struggle for the NHS, with the worst performance against the 4-hour waiting time target since its inception in 2004. NHS England saw just 87.3% of patients seen to within 4-hours of arrival, against the target of 95%. Across the year, NHS England has struggled to hit targets for cancer operations, routine operations and also Ambulance response times have continued to decline.
According to a report in the Telegraph, the NHS 111 line, put into place to relieve A&E departments, has seen a record-high percentage of callers giving up attempting to get through. The service apparently struggled to deal with a rise in calls (33% rise).
The Telegraph goes on to say that NHS England have also said that the ongoing dispute with junior doctors is starting to have an impact on patient waiting times, particularly those waiting for elective orthopaedic surgery. Additionally, every speciality of surgery, excluding ophthalmology and gynaecology, has missed their 18 week targets.
Key data from the BBC report:
2 million patients visited A&E in March, the single highest monthly figures on record.
Delays discharging patients reached record levels with nearly 170,000 days of delays experienced by patients unable to leave because of a lack of support available in the community.
Ambulances only responded to 2 in 3 of the most serious calls – Red 1 – in the target time of eight minutes, the 10th month in a row the target has been missed.
The number of patients undergoing routine operations jumped by 4% year-on-year, but by March, 8.5% of patients on the waiting list had been waiting for more than 18 weeks; the worst level since record-keeping began in 2012.
The BBC report goes on to suggest that NHS England is metaphorically running on a treadmill – whilst NHS England is running at a faster pace than ever; the speed is constantly being increased and pushing the NHS to its limits.