A&E Waiting Times Continue to Worsen

New figures from the College of Emergency Medicine make sorry reading for our nation’s health service, as hospitals continue to slip further and further away from their four hour A&E performance targets.

Waiting times continue to escalate in overcrowded A&E departments, with the latest numbers showing that 88% of patients were treated or admitted within four hours – significantly below the 95% target. As well as a struggle to get patients seen by A&E departments, the BBC has reported that there are also problems getting them to leave – in some hospitals, a fifth of all beds are occupied by patients who are ready to leave but cannot be discharged because of a lack of community services available for them.

waiting time figures for a&e departments

Photo credit: BBC

The NHS has taken steps to tackle the issue of overcrowding, with three quarters of UK hospitals increasing their stock of beds in an effort to relieve pressure and a growing number of previously routine operations now cancelled. Despite this, though, the problem continues to grow worse and worse and according to the President of the College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Cliff Mann, the “worst is yet to come.”


Figures show that A&E waiting times have continued to worsen over the past seven weeks


He said: “The majority of hospitals have endeavoured to increase the number of beds available to cope. Despite this, elective operations have had to be cancelled and postponed as bed capacity is insufficient to cope.”

The data collected from the college contains information on waiting times from the past seven weeks, monitoring the level of pressure on hospitals during winter. It shows a gradual worsening in performance since the beginning of October, when just over 92% of patients were seen within the target window of four hours.

Weekly data was previously made available by NHS England and the government themselves, but this stopped recently with data now published monthly with a six-week time lag. The latest information from the NHS, then, is from September and shows the four hour target being missed, along with other targets related to ambulance response times, cancer care and diagnostics tests.

ambulances outside an emergency care centre

 

This unsustainable pressure on our national health service comes as a result of the population’s struggle to receive the primary care that they need. With millions of us struggling to get a GP appointment within a week, patients turn to A&E for what are, quite often, non-urgent matters. Our dynamic telehealth service, Now GP, is aiming to alleviate the pressure on our NHS by supplying the public and businesses with a reliable and affordable alternative to primary healthcare.


Why the NHS Needs to Welcome Innovation or Face Collapse

Recently-departed Head of Monitor, David Bennett, has stated that the National Health Service cannot survive as a purely taxpayer-funded service and must look for other forms of revenue if it is to meet future demand.

In a continued effort to close the staggering NHS funding gap, a further £2 billion was injected into the service just last year, but the problems and deficit remain, with Bennett claiming that the gulf between demand and resources was actually closer to double this figure at the time. Now, he has warned Jeremy Hunt that without a further cash injection this year the NHS’s struggle to meet specific targets such as waiting time reduction would continue – “something’s got to give,” he said.

doctor holding a piggy bank

 

Something certainly does have to give, and with a recent damning assessment of Britain’s health service claiming that it is one of the worst in the world for developed countries, any further setbacks could see the NHS stand on the brink of collapse. This month’s spending round will see chief executive of the NHS Simon Stevens and Hunt attempt to secure a substantial downpayment on an extra £8 billion-a-year promised to the NHS over the next five years.

We’ve reached the stage, though, where simply throwing money at the NHS will not help to alleviate its difficulties – and taxpayers will certainly not be thrilled about having to cough up extra funds to pay for a failing service. The NHS needs to be revolutionised, not refinanced – and telehealth solutions such as Now GP are ideally placed to help the NHS avoid collapse in the coming years through integration and collaboration.


“Telehealth solutions such as Now GP are ideally placed to help the NHS avoid collapse in the coming years through integration and collaboration.”


With the ultimate aim of providing the general public with a more accessible and reliable solution to their primary healthcare needs, Now GP’s state-of-the-art remote video consultation and medicine delivery platform is already making waves in the world of UK healthcare. If integrated into the National Health Service, this will ease pressure on Britain’s healthcare in a number of ways.

Waiting times has long been one of the major flaws in the UK health system. 14 million of us now face a wait of a week or more to see a doctor – and this number continues to grow and grow. Through Now GP, patients can get to see a doctor when they need to at the touch of a button, reducing appointment waiting times and at the same time relieving pressure on our country’s A&E departments. Healthcare chiefs have recently claimed that in some areas of the UK, as much as 80% of A&E visits are unnecessary, with people urged to find alternative methods of finding a cure for their primary care concerns – this alternative is here already, and it’s called Now GP.

The innovative Now GP mobile app for iOS

 

Lack of job satisfaction amongst GPs and those in the healthcare industry has been documented regularly in recent months, with many doctors feeling that the pressures and difficulties associated with working for the NHS are no longer allowing them to enjoy their work. Now GP is aiming to give doctor’s the freedom to choose when and where they want to work, helping to rejuvenate the careers of hundreds of healthcare professionals who feel short-staffed, under-supplied and overworked thanks to the NHS’s overstretched service.

To meet the challenges it faces head on, the NHS needs to react and adapt to change, or else the quality of care that patients receive will fall. Getting better health value for patients of course means improving productivity – but improving productivity doesn’t mean dedicated doctors, nurses and managers working even longer and harder. It means everyone working together, embracing the amazing innovation we have at our fingertips and working in a different, more rewarding and smarter way.