Crisis in emergency care all year round

The British Medical Association has warned that emergency care services in England are performing as badly in the summer as they have in previous winters.

Examining monthly data on emergency admissions, trolley waits for more than four hours and A&E patients seen within four hours, the BMA says that the rate of compliance with the four-hour waiting target was lower last summer than it was during the winters of 2011 to 2015.

Additionally, 200,000 more patients waited on a trolley for more than four hours last winter than during winter 2011, leading to Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of council at the BMA, to blame funding and staffing shortages along with increased demand for the issue.

He said: "These figures lay bare the long-term underfunding of emergency care services in England that have experienced years of declining budgets and staff shortages at a time when patient demand has rocketed.

"It is shocking that the number of patients waiting more than four hours for treatment on trolleys has increased seven-fold during the winter months since 2011, with almost 200,000 more patients left in this appalling situation. Compliance with the four-hour waiting time target has dropped 11 per cent since 2011 and even during the supposedly quieter summer period there have been similar declines. Most worryingly, the pressure on the NHS has developed into an all year crisis."

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