The National Health Service has again missed key targets in February with its monthly performance on A&E waiting times hitting the lowest performance since monthly data became available in August 2010.
According to data published by NHS England, just 87.8 percent of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged from A&E within four hours of arrival, falling well blow below the 95 percent standard.
Also, just 68 percent of the most urgent ‘Red 1’ calls were responded to within the target eight minutes, the ninth month in a row in which the standard of 75 percent has not been met. The standard for ‘Red 2’ calls has now not been achieved since January 2014, with just 60.3 percent on target for February.
There were 1,871,729 attendances at A&E in February 2016, 13.1 percent more than in February 2015 (although there was an extra day this year in February), and the consistent failure to hit targets will fuel concern that the service is failing to cope with this rising demand.
Elsewhere, while seven of the eight cancer standards were met, the 85 percent standard for 62 day cancer waiting times was not, with 81 percent of patients beginning a first definitive treatment after an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer within this time frame.
Also of note, there were 157,569 delayed days for transfers of care in February 2016, another key indicator of NHS performance, which was significantly higher than the 134,353 figure recorded a year ago.
According to NHS England, the long-term trend continues to be one of greater volumes of both urgent and emergency care and elective activity, with the number of Category A ambulances arriving on the scene up 5.4 percent year-on-year, emergency admissions up 2.6 percent, diagnostic tests up 6.8 percent and consultant-led treatment up 4.3 percent. A&E attendances are up 1.6 percent.