Nearly a third of patients at London A&Es faced wait times of more than four hours last month according to new NHS figures, with staff “pushed beyond breaking point” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than 44,000 patients at Type 1 A&Es, the department that deals with the most serious emergencies, had to wait more than four hours to be admitted, discharged or transferred to another department in January 2021.
The NHS usually expects 95 per cent of A&E patients to be seen to within four hours of arriving, with London A&Es only seeing 68 per cent in this time last month.
Dr Onkar Sahota, Labour’s London health spokesperson, said the figures were “a real cause for concern” but showed the “intense pressures that our hospitals have been under due to the most recent wave of Covid-19 cases”.
Dr Sahota said: “NHS staff have been pushed beyond breaking point, but their unrelenting efforts in the fight against this horrific virus have been nothing short of heroic.
“But these stats are still a real cause for concern- even before the pandemic, hospital trusts across the capital were routinely failing to hit NHS waiting time targets.
“This is symptomatic of the Government’s failure over the last decade to properly invest in our hospitals and to plug rising staff vacancy rates. When the pandemic struck, this left our healthcare system on the back foot. Ministers must grasp the opportunity to urgently put this right at the upcoming budget”.
In January 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic began, only a quarter of patients attending Type 1 A&Es in London had to wait more than four hours to be seen, despite a greater overall number of patients attending A&E.
Around 61,000 patients out of a total 240,000 had to wait more than four hours in January last year, compared to 44,000 out of 153,000 in January this year.
Figures from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust were not included in this year’s data.