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Accident & Emergency ‘worst week ever’ as winter flu spreads

Accident & Emergency ‘worst week ever’ as winter flu spreads
Emergency rooms in UK hospitals experienced an unprecedented crisis this week, failing to meet a record number of their targets, with patients waiting hours for treatment. Nearly half of people in a recent survey think NHS care is deteriorating.

Recent figures show that, in the week to December 14, less than 90 percent of patients were seen within four hours of arrival in NHS hospitals in England. The official target percentage is 95, but only six A&E units out of 140 met the criteria.

Of the 400,000 patients treated in A&E last week, 89.9 percent were seen within four hours. The figures also showed that “trolley waits” – waits over four hours for a bed after the decision has been made to hospitalize a patient – reached over 10,000 for the first time ever.

In Wales and Northern Ireland, performance is reported to have been even worse.

While A&E services struggled meet targets, the rest of the NHS has reported increased pressures across a range of services due to a spike in winter ailments such as flu.

Extra funds have been released across trusts in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in attempts to tackle the growing pressure, but targets continue to be missed.

Dr Barbara Hakin, of NHS England, said there had been significant increases in the number of people admitted to A&E.

AFP Photo / Robyn Beck

“We have admitted more people to hospital this week to take care of them than in any previous week on record. I want to pay tribute to the staff dealing with that – they are doing a brilliant job,” she said.

“While we are now below the extremely high waiting time standards that we set ourselves, the service we provide remains robust.”

She continued to praise the service for having the best waiting times “for any major country that measures them.”

“As we come into the holiday period, it is important people continue to look after themselves and nip problems in the bud. They should ensure they have proper medication, get their flu jab if they have not done so, and get advice from their pharmacist,” she said.

News of the poor A&E performance comes as a survey conducted by ComRes and ITV News found that 45 percent of UK residents feel that the quality of care in the NHS is getting worse.

The survey also found that 46 percent of 2,069 adults surveyed think easy access to locally provided services such as GPs was deteriorating.

A further one in four of respondents claimed they had experienced “unacceptably poor” levels of care when treated by the NHS.

A large proportion of people polled thought the public health service didn’t get enough support from the government – around 65 percent.

Last week the NHS launched its Winter Project, which aims to collect data from units around the country in order to monitor its performance.