Written by Assistant Litigation Executive, Nina Taylor

A&E waiting times have risen by a third since last July, new figures published on last Thursday show.

This is a disturbing trend that highlights the blurring between the winter crises and ‘quieter’ summer months. While the current government has pledged £1.8bn to upgrade the infrastructure and equipment, is this a matter of ‘too little, too late’?

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said:

Cash for new buildings is always welcome, but the NHS desperately needs more staff to cope with these peaks in demand.

Whereas, Dr Rob Harwood, Chair of the British Medical Association Consultants Committee said:

The recently announced spending for the NHS is welcome, if that indeed represents new investment. But frankly, these figures suggest that much more is needed if the performance of the NHS is to be restored.

While the NHS say they see on average 2,300 people a day within 4 hours, official figures say differently. The number of patients waiting more than 4 hours rose by 35% to 57,694.  Moreover, Patients waiting more than 12 hours almost tripled from 149 to 436.

Attendances at A&E are also up by 4% from last year with 2.7 million attendances. As the UK’s population ages, experts believe that by 2040 nearly one in seven people will be over 75.

Do we need to look elsewhere for a viable solution?

Northern Ireland’s figures (March 2019) show on average that almost two thirds of patient treatment / discharge /admittance fell within 4 hours. As a result, 95% saw their care needs assessed for the first time by a medical professional within 36 minutes of arrival.

Clearly in cases where early diagnosis is key (such as sepsis and cauda equina), we know from experience that these delays can have catastrophic consequences for our clients. The sooner the diagnosis, the better their outcome.

While pledging £1.8bn is a start, it is hopefully not a one off payment and instead the start of a reinvestment scheme into our NHS following over 10 years of austerity and budget cuts.

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