Patient delays worst in country at A&E unit in region

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Patients in a city in Yorkshire last week again faced the longest waits in the country for A&E care.

Latest figures show only 74 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust which has faced persistent problems over the winter despite a newly-launched plan to cut delays.

Patients at six other trusts in the region - Sheffield teaching hospitals, Mid Yorkshire, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole, York, Rotherham and Doncaster and Bassetlaw - waited longer than the 95 per cent standard.

Across England there was a surge in patients needing A&E treatment in the seven days to last Sunday, with 446,000 attendances - the highest since the peak before Christmas.

NHS chiefs are putting plans in place to secure emergency and out-of-hours care over the Easter break amid speculation a breakdown in services could impact on the General Election.

NHS England said 93.2 per cent of patients spent four hours or less from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge in the week ending March 22 - the 25th week in a row it has failed to hit the target. Health think-tank the King’s Fund warned earlier this week that missing the target had become “normalised” at many hospitals.

New figures also revealed an increase in delayed discharges, also known as “bed blocking”, from hospitals.

Watchdog Healthwatch England said the figures showed an overall increase in delayed discharges from hospital over the past year.

Chairwoman Anna Bradley said: “The figures from NHS England show that, while delayed discharge dropped over Christmas as expected, the number of people being kept in hospital when deemed fit to leave rose again after December and has been increasing steadily throughout the past 12 months.

“Discharging patients safely and in a timely manner would free up thousands of bed days, save money and, most importantly, get people home sooner - which is where we all want to be.”