Local MP hits out as government signals A&E waiting time targets are likely to be scrapped

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21 Jan 2020
Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood has expressed profound concern as the government’s Health Secretary indicated that four-hour waiting time targets for A&E are likely to be scrapped.

The target has been under review and a final decision is due to be taken by NHS England in the coming months.

The current target states that 95% of patients should be either admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of visiting A&E. However, in December 2019, hospital-based A&Es only managed to reach 68.6%, which was the lowest number since the target was created in 2004, and the first time that performance had slipped below 70%.

In November 2019, Wirral A&E waiting times were worse than the national picture and the worst on record locally as only 57.8% of patients were seen within the four-hour target after arrival at Arrowe Park A&E. A&E waiting times in Wirral have significantly deteriorated since June 2019 when 75.9% of people were seen within four hours – still way below the national target.

Margret Greenwood MP said:

“Changing A&E targets won’t suddenly solve the problems we've heard of patients being left on trolleys in corridors for hours and hours.

“Any review of targets has got to be fully transparent and must be based on clear clinical evidence. If it isn’t, then patients will think the government is trying to avoid scrutiny of poor performance.

“Just last year, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said that scrapping the four-hour target would have a near-catastrophic impact on patient safety.

“A&E waiting times across the country have increased drastically in recent months, and Arrowe Park A&E experienced its worst ever performance in November of last year.

“One concerned member of the public told me she saw 13 ambulances backed up outside A&E at Arrowe Park Hospital because there weren’t enough beds for patients; another constituent contacted me with an example of a critically ill person having to be carried to an elderly relative’s car and taken to A&E with no medical support because the wait for an ambulance was too long.

“That is the reality of the situation under this government.

“The impact that these waiting times are having on patients and hard-working staff cannot be understated.

“Patients have a right to know how hospitals are being run and how they are performing.

“The best way for the government to end the A&E waiting time crisis is for the NHS to be given the funding and staff it needs.”