NHS A&E treatment target drops to record low over winter

Video above filmed at Royal Stoke Hospital in September 2017 by Toni Prince showing corridors filled with A&E patients. 

The demanding winter period for all public health services across the country puts stress on not only the nurses and doctors seeing patients, but also those managing the budgets in councils across the country.

This stress was apparent this winter when only 77% of A&E patients in England were seen within the four hour treatment target.

The 77% number accounts for the months of December and January where the NHS were able to see, treat and discharge/transfer in the four hour window. Only a mere five out of the one hundred and thirty-seven trusts managed to see ill patients within the four-hour window.

The figures for December and January are the lowest figures since the four-hour target was introduced.

Staffordshire’s huge overspending

 Staffordshire initially set aside £1.6 million in preparation for the usual huge winter demand. The NHS trust, University Hospitals of North Midlands  (UHNM), set aside £1.6 million for the busy winter period. However the trust actually spend almost £8 million over the course of December to the end of February.

Bosses have stated that the increase in spending was ‘necessary’ and that there original budget structure was their most ‘comprehensive’ to date.

The annual budget for the trust is £750 million. Reports showed however at the end of last year that The Royal Stoke hospital spent a further £80 million and the county hospital spend an additional £40 million.

Staffordshire has increased pressure on itself from when it emerged that their had been several deaths which could have been prevented between 2005-08. The scandal not only led to the Mid-Staffordshire Trust being dissolved, it also led to a public enquire with 290 recommendations.


January also saw The Royal Hospital in Stoke struggle to cope with A&E demand as it hit it’s lowest figures since records began.

  • 69.1% of patients in January at The Royal Stoke Hospital were seen within the four-hour target, over 25% under the 95% target.
  • 1,043 patients waited OVER 12 HOURS across the UK in December, double for the time of year.
  • 54% of patients at the County Hospital (formally known as Stafford Hospital) were seen within the four-limit.
  • Staff at The Royal Stoke Hospital apologised for ‘third world’ conditions.


University Hospitals of North Midlands took emergency measures due to the huge stress caused over December and January. UHNM opened up a further 189 escalation beds and cancelled all non-urgent surgery throughout January.

North Staffordshire health campaigner Ian Syme has deemed the A&E situation at ‘breaking point’ as accident and emergency departments across the UK continue to struggle.

“The increases in money in the NHS haven’t met the demand.”

“You get a gap in resources, that gap is in all areas of care, that gap to supply and demand are not matched either in primary care or social care and its certainly not matched in acute care.”

Syme also believes that the health and social care system is close to collapsing: “It’s at breaking point, you can’t keep this kind of pressure up for any length of time.”

The A&E situation at North Staffordshire is supposedly on the verge of not only bringing down their Accident & Emergency departments, but also those of the entirety of the West Midlands.

“We (North Staffordshire A&E) can’t close our doors to emergencies because the whole emergency care system of the West Midlands goes into domino effect, it starts collapsing.”

‘We are short in a load of areas, typical of a deprived area. We are short of GP’s, district nurses, these are pre-acute.’

‘UHNM had 217 12-hour trolley waits. That is over a quarter of all of those that happened in England in January’.

One person who spoke with iCov, who wishes to remain anonymous, describes how the failings at The County Hospital led her mothers death.

“The hospital out sourced the work, were short of staff, personal care was poor on the verge of neglect. Ward hygiene was poor and the wards were dirty too”.

“Communication was a major concern as every consultant/nurse did not have an idea of the patients health/medical history. I had to explain and give details to numerous staff. I felt as though I was having to repeat myself all the time. The young doctor, who clearly wasn’t told of the patients limited fluid intake, gave her a saline drip which caused her to swell and therefore hours later she died by drowning from too much fluid which got to her lungs”.

“Days later the patients husband even had the consultant who referred her to the hospital, ring him to speak to the patient at which point the husband had to tell her she’d died. Leaving the consultant deeply embarrassed”.

Current NHS funding 

2017/18 sees the funding for the NHS increased to £123.817bn, an increase of £3.305bn from 2016/17. The minor increase doesn’t elude the current Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt that the NHS still isn’t receiving enough to cope with high A&E demands up and down the UK.

Hunt says the NHS needs ‘significantly more funding’ over the next decade as Jeremy Corbyn continues to pile the pressure on Hunt and the Conservatives after calls for Hunt to be sacked by Prime Minister Theresa May. Corbyn believes the current Health Secretary should quit for losing the confidence of doctors, patients and the Prime Minister.


Jack Williams

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