News

14.07.16

NHS fails to meet urgent ambulance targets for a year

NHS England has failed to meet its target on replying to the most serious ambulance calls for the past year, the latest performance figures show.

In May 2016, 70.5% of Red 1 calls were responded to within eight minutes, marking the twelfth month in a row below the 75% standard.

The target of responding to less serious Category A calls within 19 minutes against a 95% target has also not been met within a year and is currently at 92.3%, and the target for Red 2 calls has not been met for even longer, since January 2014.

The figures also show that the percentage of A&E patients seen within four hours is also below the 95% target, at 90.2%. This figure was the lowest ever in January to March 2016.

The King’s Fund suggested this week that NHS England may have to abandon its performance targets altogether in order to focus on controlling its finances.

Delayed transfers of care are also climbing even higher. There were 171,452 delayed days in May, more than the previous month’s record high of 167,677 and the highest number since monthly data was first collected in August 2010.

In a snap recording of figures at midnight on 26 May, there were 6,045 delayed patients, again the highest figure since records began.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of older people’s charity Independent Age, said the “alarming” increase in delayed transfers showed that Theresa May, the new prime minister, must address the shortfalls in health and social care funding.

She said: “This problem affects frail and elderly people the most and they are left stuck in hospital, often because proper care and support is not available at home. As our population ages, this problem will only get worse unless the new government confronts these issues head on. It is vital that Theresa May’s government delivers a fully funded health and social care system, which is fit for purpose, as a matter of urgency.”

The increased pressures on the NHS are partly due to increased patient demand, with A&E attendances increasing by 6.4% compared to May 2015.

Matthew Swindells, NHS England’s national director for operations and information, admitted that the figures showed “frontline services under intense pressure”, but pointed out that 185,000 more patients were seen in under four hours in May than the month before.

(Image c. Rui Vieira from PA Wire)

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