The last perfromance Statistics from NHS England to be released before the election shows that one in six patients waited longer than four hours in A&E in England during October – the worst-ever performance since the target was introduced in 2004.
The head of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said the figures should be “a source of shame for politicians of all stripes”.
The health service has also missed a raft of other targets, including how long people wait to start planned treatment and waits for cancer care.
In response to NHS England September and October monthly performance statistics, Dr Rebecca Fisher, GP and Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation, said:
‘As political parties vie to prove their NHS credentials, today’s figures highlight that the NHS is desperately struggling to stay afloat. In October 320,000 people waited over the four hour target to be seen in A+E – the worst ever performance. People are also waiting for longer to have planned surgery, or to start treatment for cancer.
‘Funding for the NHS has failed to keep pace with rising need for health care. The NHS does not have enough staff, or enough equipment, to meet the needs of the population it serves. Staff work incredibly hard under increasing pressure, but ultimately can’t protect patients from feeling the effects – behind these figures are people waiting often long and anxious waits, struggling in pain, or at risk of illness worsening in the meantime.
‘The next government must take urgent action to improve the care the NHS is able to offer, as well as invest in the wider public services needed to keep people healthy. The road to recovery will take time – and we will need a bold strategy to address the staffing crisis and financial underinvestment currently ailing the NHS.’