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14 November 2019 12:31

Katie Jarvis EastEnders Victoria Derbyshire

General election: A&E waiting times hit 15 year high as Tories 'push NHS into crisis'

The NHS has recorded its worst A&E waiting times in England since current targets began in 2004. The latest figures show that 83.6% of patients were seen within four hours in October. Image: Patients are being urged to use the NHS 111 phoneline or online service On a more positive note, almost 175,000 people were seen within two weeks of being referred for an urgent cancer check in September, an increase of 8.9% compared to the same month last year. An NHS spokesperson said: "These figures show that while NHS staff are looking after a markedly higher number of older and sicker patients, a higher number of patients are being seen quickly than a year ago. "While hospitals will be opening more beds over the coming weeks, the public also have a role to play going into winter, and can help doctors, nurses and other staff by getting their flu jab, and by using the NHS 111 phone or online service as a first port of call for non-emergencies." Responding to the latest figures, the Nuffield Trust said the next government could be faced with "one of the bleakest winters in the NHS's history".

Analysing the figures, it said: "The health service is seeing far more patients, yet one in six is now waiting more than four hours in A&E. Image: The number of people being seen within two weeks of being referred for an urgent cancer check has increased Labour's shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said the NHS was "in crisis" and a "winter of abject misery for patients" was in prospect. "These figures starkly show why patients desperately need Labour's £40 billion rescue plan." Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the figures showed "just how important it is that we stop Jeremy Corbyn". "With rising demand, and with dedicated staff already working exceptionally hard, the last thing our NHS can afford is Labour's plans for a four-day week and uncontrolled and unlimited immigration, which would cripple our health service - leaving it understaffed and underfunded." NHS England says its "staff are looking after a markedly higher number of older and sicker patients". But these figures tell us the NHS is not coping and when the winter really does arrive it will further increase pressure on a struggling health service.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: "Trusts have put winter planning into practice. One in six patients waited longer than four hours in A&E last month, NHS figures show A&E waiting times are at their worst-ever level as the NHS comes under intense pressure before what doctors and hospital bosses fear will be a very tough winter for the service. Less than three-quarters (74.5%) of people who sought care at A&E unit in England in October were treated and then discharged, admitted or transferred within four hours – the smallest proportion since the target was introduced in 2004. Under Boris Johnson the NHS is in crisis and we're heading for a winter of abject misery for patients," said Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary. The Tories … should apologise to every patient languishing on a trolley and waiting longer for treatment." NHS England's latest set of performance statistics, published on Thursday, revealed that hospitals also missed a raft of key targets last month covering patient waiting times for cancer care and non-urgent operations, such as cataract removals, hernia repairs and hip and knee replacements.

A&E performance was also the worst ever on NHS England's preferred measurement, which includes people seen in hospital-based units but also urgent care centres and walk-in centres. The grim set of statistics added to growing fears in the NHS that in the coming winter services could really struggle to cope with the annual spike in demand, especially if there is a major flu outbreak and with snow already falling in parts of England. Thursday's latest figures – the last before the general election on 12 December – showed that of the 1,376,282 people who attended a hospital-based A&E in October 908,168 were seen within four hours but 311,513 were not. The data is slightly incomplete because figures from 14 NHS trusts which are taking part in a trial of a new measurement of A&E waiting times were not included. The next Government will be faced with one of the bleakest winters in NHS history, while A&E performance figures are at an all time low NHS staff work incredibly hard under increasing pressure but, ultimately, they cannot protect patients from feeling the effects of underinvestment.

In October 320,000 people waited over the four hour emergency access target to be seen in A&E – the worst ever performance. People are also waiting for longer to have planned surgery, or to start treatment for cancer. There is no doubt staff work incredibly hard under increasing pressure but, ultimately, they cannot protect patients from feeling the effects. The Tories have already said they will boost spending on the NHS in England by £20bn a year by 2023/24 - equivalent to a 3.6 per cent annual rise. Labour unveiled its "rescue plan" for the NHS in England this week with an extra £26bn of funding a year - equivalent to a 4.3 per cent annual rise - paid for by higher taxes on companies and the wealthiest in society.

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How Verizon Media and our partners bring you better ad experiences To give you a better overall experience, we want to provide relevant ads that are more useful to you. Verizon Media and our partners need your consent to access your device and use your data (including location) to understand your interests, and provide and measure personalised ads. A&E waiting times have hit their worst levels on record, new figures reveal just weeks before voters go to the polls. NHS England data shows just 83.6% of patients were admitted or treated within four hours - well below the government's target of 95%. Nearly one in four cancer patients are waiting more than 62 days for their treatment to begin, figures show. Labour's shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth posted on Twitter: "It's official - the Tories have pushed our NHS into crisis." He said the Conservatives should apologise to patients "languishing" on trollies and waiting for treatment after a decade of cuts. More than 80,000 patients had to wait more than four hours to be admitted after medics made the decision to admit them, NHS England reveals. And in September the NHS revealed 76.9% of cancer patients were beginning treatment within 62 days - well short of the 85% target. "The four-hour limit of seeing people was brought in under the previous Labour government, as was the two-week wait for cancer treatment. After the figures were published Mr Ashworth said: "The Conservatives have ushered in the worst NHS crisis on record. "Under Boris Johnson the NHS is in crisis and we're heading for a winter of abject misery for patients. Now they should apologise to every patient languishing on a trolley and waiting longer for treatment. Labour said yesterday that a 32 hour working week affecting all employees would be introduced over a decade, and rubbished Conservative claims it would cause chaos. Nuffield Trust chief economist, Professor John Appleby, said: "These figures show the next government will immediately be faced with one of the bleakest winters in the NHS's history." A year ago 89.1% of A&E patients were treated within four hours - meaning there has been a drop of nearly 6% in the past 12 months.