New figures released by NHS England have revealed that accident and emergency departments are under huge strain, suggesting that more locum staff may be needed to address the problem and keep waiting times down to a minimum.
It is normal for demand on the NHS to increase at this time of year because of the amount of people suffering with flu or norovirus, but this year seems to be bringing unprecedented demand on emergency departments in England.
Extra funding has been allocated to each nation in the United Kingdom, but hospitals are still struggling to keep patient waiting times under the four-hour target. The latest figures show that less 90 per cent of people who go to accident and emergency departments are being seen in this timeframe, suggesting more staff are needed.
In England, the number was slightly higher with 91.8 per cent of patients being seen within four hours, but this is still under the 95 per cent target for the UK. This is the worst performance since April 2013.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: “It’s concerning that so many key waiting time targets are being missed. A&E departments across the country face immense pressures and many are buckling under the strain.
"Our health service is running at full capacity and the strain on the system is immense. The fear is that as the festive period gets underway, A&Es are set to get even busier and performance could deteriorate further."
He added that staff continue to work incredibly hard to care for record numbers of patients but this is not a sustainable situation.
With patient numbers rising, the NHS needs more staff to ensure patients get the standard of care they deserve, and that there are enough beds for them to be in. In addition, there also needs to be enough resources in social care to ensure patients can leave hospital when they are well enough, without putting their health at risk.
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