Queen Alexandra Hospital A&E targets missed as busy winter spell begins

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THE NHS in England has missed a raft of key targets for A&E waiting times, cancer treatment and ambulance responses as experts warn the health service will struggle to cope with the busy winter period.

Monthly figures have shown 92.3 per cent of patients attending emergency departments were seen within four hours in October - against a target of 95 per cent.

It is the lowest figure for October since current records began in 2010.

It comes days after The News revealed 37 patients were taken to other hospitals in a recent two-week period as Queen Alexandra Hospital’s A&E struggled with demand.
South Central Ambulance Service has devised a nine-point scheme to ease the pressure on hospitals as they see an influx of patients during the winter months.

Latest figures show that in September, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, saw, treated or discharged just under 80 per cent of patients in four hours.

The government benchmark is for trusts to achieve this 95 per cent of the time – a marker the trust has missed for the past two years.

NHS England revealed the 62-day wait for cancer treatment from GP referral was hit for just 81.8 per cent of patients, against a target of 85 per cent. It is the 18th month in a row it has been missed.

Ambulance trusts also continued to miss the target for 75 per cent of critical Red 1 calls – such as for cardiac arrest – to be responded to within eight minutes. In October this was hit for 73.3 per cent of calls, the fifth month in a row it has been missed.

Some 68.8 per cent of Red 2 immediately life-threatening calls – such as for stroke – were responded to within eight minutes, against a target of 75 per cent. This target has not been met by the NHS since January last year.

There were 1,923,326 attendances at A&E in October – the highest number for the month since current records began in 2010. It is 1.6 per cent more than October last year .

The figures were published after an NHS research body warned that the health service will struggle to cope over winter because of high bed occupancy rates and a lack of funding.

Just 3.6 per cent of patients took up over a third of all bed capacity in acute hospitals in England last year, according to the Nuffield Trust.

It said the figures help explain why the NHS still suffered a winter crisis last year, ‘despite receiving extra funding from NHS England of almost £700 million specifically to deal with pressures caused by winter.’

The patients taking up a third of bed capacity are ‘likely to have been frail or elderly people who the system was not ready to return to their own homes or to nursing or residential homes, despite their medical treatment being finished’, the trust said.