Long A&E waits 'are on the rise'
Published: 31st May 2012 04:56:30
The proportion of patients facing long waits in A&E units in England has started rising, analysis suggests.
The King's Fund report showed 4.2% of patients waited longer than four hours from January to March, compared with 3.4% in the same period last year.
It means long A&E waits are at their highest level since 2004.
The think tank said it was a sign A&E departments are struggling, but ministers said long waits were within acceptable levels.
The health service is allowed to let up to 5% of the 21m patients who visit A&E units each year wait longer than four hours.
This is built into the system to give doctors the freedom to prioritise the sickest patients.
So the proportion of patients waiting for over four hours is still within the target.
What is more, that leeway has been increased from 2% in the past year.
The King's Fund, which used government figures for its analysis, accepted the rise seen over the last 12 months could be partly linked to prioritising of the most unwell.
But it also said it was indicative of the pressures in the health service - funding is being squeezed at a time when A&E units are having to treat more patients.
Professor John Appleby, the chief economist of the King's Fund, said the "steep rise" should be a concern for the government.
But Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the King's Fund was "wrong" to suggest it was a growing problem as the government had given hosptials greater flexibility over how quickly they treat patients.
At 23:35:48 in WorldA young girl offered US First Lady Michelle Obama her father's CV during questions at the White House's Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
At 23:12:26 in SportFormula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone made his first appearance in a Munich court on Thursday, accused of giving a £27.5m ($45m, 33m euros) bribe to a German banker.
At 22:51:02 in EntertainmentA village museum in East Sussex will go up against Tate Britain and the new £35m Mary Rose Museum in a contest to be named the UK's museum of the year.
At 22:42:55 in BusinessBarclays agreed to a $280m (£167m) settlement with the US Federal Housing and Finance Authority (FHFA).
At 22:30:17 in EnglandThe government says it is making "urgent inquiries" into reports Whitehall computers were used to make insulting comments about the Hillsborough disaster.
At 22:22:33 in HeadlinesRussia and the US have accused each other of failing to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine after Kiev launched raids on pro-Moscow separatists.
At 22:19:49 in SportWorld number one Rafael Nadal booked his place in the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open with a 6-3 6-3 win over Croatian Ivan Dodig.
At 22:13:15 in SportFormer Rangers, Hearts and Scotland defender Sandy Jardine has died at the age of 65.
At 22:00:20 in PoliticsThe zero-hours contract - alongside the payday loan and the bad bank - has gained a kind of totemic significance in the public imagination.
At 22:00:03 in ScotlandScottish independence would leave working people north and south of the border worse off, Ed Miliband has claimed.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Long A&E waits 'are on the rise' [Online] (Updated 31st May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1431953/Long-A-E-waits-are-on-the-rise [Accessed 25th Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone made his first appearance in a Munich court on Thursday, accused of giving a £27.5m ($45m, 33m euros) bribe to a German banker.
The government says it is making "urgent inquiries" into reports Whitehall computers were used to make insulting comments about the Hillsborough disaster.
Barclays agreed to a $280m (£167m) settlement with the US Federal Housing and Finance Authority (FHFA).
A 15 year-old girl has been cut free after becoming trapped in a children's swing in a park in Denbighshire.
A young girl offered US First Lady Michelle Obama her father's CV during questions at the White House's Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
Skin grown in the laboratory can replace animals in drug and cosmetics testing, UK scientists say.