Source: London Assembly
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Over a quarter of patients waited longer than four hours in local A&E departments last month
Over a quarter of patients waited longer than four hours in A&E departments run by the London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust last month, the latest NHS figures have revealed. In August, there were 3,222 Type 1 A&E attendances across Ealing and Northwick Park Hospital where it took more than four hours between a patient’s arrival and their admission, transfer or discharge. Local London Assembly Member, Dr Onkar Sahota AM, said that the figures “fire a warning shot” of the “even more intense pressures that hospitals could be under this winter”.
These figures come as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) warned that daily COVID-19 hospitalisations could reach 7,000 per day in England unless the Government implements a “basket of measures”.
The Government recently announced that as part of its COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan, £5.4 billion will be invested into the NHS over the next six months. However, it remains unclear how much of this funding will be allocated to support hospitals over the winter.
The operational standard set by the NHS 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. However, in May, plans were announced to scrap this target after NHS England published a consultation review on new urgent and emergency care standards.
Separate NHS data shows that between June and August 2021, acute medical vacancy rates in London rose by 71% to number almost 1,500.
Over the same period, acute nursing vacancies in the capital increased by 11% to reach almost 5,000 in total. However, these figures do not give an indication how many of these vacancies have been filled by temporary staff.
Local London Assembly Member, Dr Onkar Sahota AM, said:
“These figures fire a warning shot of the even more intense pressures that hospitals could be under this winter.
“Let’s be clear, the waiting times are not a reflection on the incredibly hardworking and dedicated staff at London’s hospitals, but rather years of underinvestment and a continued failure by the Government to address vacancy rates within the NHS workforce.
“Targets might be being scrapped, but there is no reason why the capacity of our NHS shouldn’t be strengthened to hit the highest standards of patient care.
“I want to see some urgent clarity from the Government on how much funding is going to be allocated to ensuring our hospitals will be able to cope in the difficult months ahead and what action they are taking to address the rising shortages in permanent NHS staff”.