At one trust in the city-region fewer than half of those who went to A&E last month were seen within the four-hour waiting time, analysis of NHS England data shows. Across England as a whole waits reached record highs, with just 68.9% of patients being seen within four hours. This is far behind hospitals’ target of getting 95% of A&E visitors to see a doctor within that timeframe.
The health service said there were more A&E visits last month than in any other November on record and that staff were battling increased flu cases in hospital as well. In addition the ambulance service received more category one calls - for the most serious incidents - than in any previous November.
What does the data show for Greater Manchester?
The A&E waiting figures across Greater Manchester’s hospitals varied considerably in November. At Bolton NHS Foundation Trust fewer than half of patients - 49.4% to be exact - were seen within the four-hour target time. In addition, 354 patients faced a wait of 12 hours or more between a decision being made to admit them to hospital and the actual admission.
At Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust 53.2% of A&E patients were admitted, discharged or transferred to another hospital service within four hours, while at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust it was 58.8%. Stockport’s hospital had 58.1% of A&E patients seen within four hours, while at Tameside and Glossop it was 62%.
At the Manchester University hospital trust some 42,461 A&E patients came through the door in November, while the Northern Care Alliance dealt with 32,167 A&E patients.
Compared to the previous year A&E departments were managing to see fewer patients within the four-hour target time but facing increased workloads with more people coming through the doors. For the Manchester University, Stockport and Tameside and Glossop trusts there were slight improvements in the month-on-month performance compared to October.
What did the NHS say?
The NHS said it dealt with its busiest November in A&E on record, with 2,166,710 visits to accident and emergency departments across England. The health service says it continuing to see the post-pandemic impact of viruses, with far more people in hospital with flu than was the case last year and increased levels of norovirus.
At the same time the NHS is trying to cut long waits for care and work through its post-Covid catch-up programme to bring down elective waiting lists and get people diagnostic tests and checks.
Health experts said there are things the public can do to help.
National clinical director for urgent and emergency care, Professor Julian Redhead, said: “Despite the ongoing pressures on services which are exacerbated by flu hospitalisations, issues in social care meaning we cannot discharge patients who are ready, and record numbers needing A&E, staff have powered through to bring down some of our longest waits for care.
“We have already said we are dealing with a perfect storm of pressures this winter, including increased demand for emergency are, and today announced an expansion of mental health crisis services which will ensure people suffering a mental health crisis get the help they need as quickly as possible, and reduce the chances of a patient needing to go to A&E.
“That is all on top of the measures announced NHS’ winter plan published in October which includes new hubs dedicated to respiratory infections and a falls response service to free up ambulance capacity.
“But the public can also play its part by using the best services for their care – using 111 services for urgent medical advice and 999 in an emergency – and to come forward or vaccinations, if eligible, to protect you and others around you against serious illness.”