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November 15, 2019

NHS facing ‘one of bleakest winters’ as waits mount

World

P
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November 15, 2019

LONDON: The NHS is experiencing its worst ever performance in A&E, and thousands of people face rising waits for operations and cancer treatment, according to the last set of monthly health data before the General Election.

New figures from NHS England show a continuing decline against key targets, as health experts warned the health service was facing one of its “bleakest” ever winters.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was “disgraceful” the four-hour A&E target was not being met, while Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “these figures show just how important it is that we stop Jeremy Corbyn”.

All the major political parties have pledged to do more for the health service if they win the election, including more funding for health and social care. The new NHS data shows that one in six patients waited longer than four hours in A&E in England during October — the worst-ever performance since the four-hour target was introduced in 2004.

Some 83.6 per cent of patients arriving at A&E were treated or admitted in four hours. The target is 95 per cent but it has not been met since July 2015. The data also showed that in September, 84.8 per cent of patients started treatment within 18 weeks against a target of 92 per cent. The target was last met in February 2016. The target to start cancer treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral is also being missed. Some 76.9 per cent of cancer patients started treatment in 62 days in September, below the 85 per cent target. Overall, more than 4.4 million patients are on the waiting list.

The data comes as the Royal College of Surgeons called on political leaders to keep the 18-week wait for planned treatment — which is currently under review and could be scrapped.Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Luciana Berger said: “This is a damning indictment of the Conservatives’ dismal record on the NHS.”

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