New official figures show that England’s hospital A&E departments have experienced the worst quarter since records began, as a number of hospitals have declared ‘major incident’ status and closed A&E doors to many patients.
The statistics released by NHS England show that in October to December 2014, 407,844 patients waited over four hours to be seen compared to 227,400 in the same quarter last year. The NHS also released data for the last fortnight of December, which shows the number of patients who have been admitted and wait up to 12 hours on a trolley for a bed to become free almost quadrupling to 20,962 – up from 5,573 in those weeks last year.
These figures confirm the serious deterioration in the NHS under this Government but reveal, more worryingly, a dangerous slump in A&E performance in recent weeks.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly been warned to get a grip on the growing crisis in A&E and ambulance services. He has failed to do so and has now left patients all over England exposed to unacceptable levels of risk.
This crisis in A&E has its roots in the Government’s cuts to social care and GP access and its disastrous decision to throw the NHS into the chaos of reorganisation. The NHS could be rescued with a £2.5 billion a year Time to Care fund - to fund new staff, including 20,000 more nurses.
The Prime Minister’s central promise at the last election was to protect the NHS. It is now clear for all to see that he has put it in intensive care.