NHS winter crisis: Worst EVER delays in A&E delays

NHS winter crisis: Worst EVER delays in A&E and for cancer treatment as waiting list for surgery reaches ANOTHER record-high amid spike in flu and norovirus cases

  • Just 81% of A&E patients were treated in four hours in November, data shows
  • 4.45million patients faced 18-week waits to have routine operations in October
  • Number of cancer patients who started treatment within two months is just 83%
  • Separate figures show norovirus is crippling the overwhelmed health service 

NHS hospitals are performing worse than ever before this winter, a raft of damning statistics have today revealed.

Just 81 per cent of A&E patients were treated within four hours in November – and 1,112 of them faced delays of 12 hours. 

Hospitals’ beds are so full – only five out of every 100 are free – that doctors and nurses just don’t have any space to admit new patients.

And around 4.45million patients had faced waits of more than 18 weeks to undergo routine operations in October.

In another worst-ever performance, figures show the number of cancer patients who have started treatment within two months is just 83 per cent. 

Health experts said today’s bombshell is an immediate reminder for returning Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, of the ‘grim’ situation the NHS finds itself in.

Just 81 per cent of A&E patients were treated in A&E in four hours in November – and 1,112 of them faced delays of 12 hours

Separate figures released by health chiefs this morning show norovirus – as well as flu – is crippling the overwhelmed health service.

Twice the number of hospital beds were closed from the winter vomiting bug last week, compared to the same time point last year. 

And bed occupancy rates were almost 95 per cent last week, well above the limit deemed safe by the NHS. One trust even reported having no free beds. 

Doctors have repeatedly warned the country’s emergency care is ‘imploding’ and that no political parties have credible plans to rescue it.

The shocking figures come as hospitals across the country have urged patients to stay away from crowded A&E units.

At least 15 trusts have appealed to the public to only attend with genuine medical emergencies via Twitter or their own websites.

They include the Royal Bolton Hospital in Greater Manchester which issued a ‘black alert’ last week, the highest level of escalation.

Senior doctors say A&E units are more overcrowded than usual for this time of year, a problem compounded by flu and norovirus, which have both arrived early.

Hospitals are struggling to keep pace with demand and seriously ill patients are coming in at a much faster rate than they are being discharged.

A&E units are rapidly becoming overcrowded as patients have to be kept on trolleys in corridors as they wait for a free bed on a ward.

This winter, however, the usual pressures are being exacerbated by the winter vomiting bug norovirus, as staff have to close off precious beds to contain the infection.

Flu has also arrived early this year and hospitals in the North of England are reporting a particularly high rate of admissions linked to the virus.

Chief executive of the Nuffield Trust healthcare think-tank, Nigel Edwards, said: ‘Returning to Downing Street, Boris Johnson has been met by an immediate reminder of the grim winter his Government faces in the English NHS.

‘The November figures show the number of patients waiting on trolleys is at its highest level ever, a very worrying sign with the coldest months still to come. 

‘For the first time, not one single major A&E department in England met the current four hour waiting time target. 

‘Figures for the first week of December suggest what may be driving this, showing bed occupancy at 95 per cent, a level which will make it near impossible to admit many patients in need onto the right ward.’