Accident and emergency department performance has deteriorated in recent weeks while planned activity failed to increase in July, according to new data.
The latest figures published by NHS England show the target to see, treat, admit or discharge 95 per cent of patients within four hours was not hit in the week ending 7 September.
Performance at type one A&E departments - the classification for conventional A&Es - was 90.9 per cent seen within four hours – the worst since April last year. In the same week last year type one performance was 93.9 per cent.
Across all types of A&Es, which include urgent care centres, performance was 93.8 per cent.
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Meanwhile, elective care statistics covering July - published yesterday - showed that the amount of acute elective activity carried out in that month had not increased, despite a government led push to reduce the long waiting list between June and September. The government has made an additional £250m funding available for this purpose.
Waiting times expert Rob Findlay said: “If you’re giving the NHS extra money to treat more patients then, at the risk of being obvious, you might expect the NHS to treat more patients. But it didn’t. In fact the number of patients admitted per working day was the lowest of any July in the last four years.”
It suggests the government led effort to cut the long NHS planned care waiting list has relied particularly on activity in August and September.
Providers have been given a reprieve on having to meet referral to treatment targets while they treat the longest waiters. This was reflected in the July figures which showed only 89.4 per cent of admitted patients were treated within 18 weeks. The target is 90 per cent.
Head of analysis at the Foundation Trust Network, Sivakumar Anandaciva, said that the temporary nature of the £250m funding made it harder for providers to clear their backlogs.
He said: “The resilience funding allocated for this year has been welcome, however providers tell us that the funding is simply not flowing in the way it should to deliver greatest value for patients. The non-recurrent nature of this funding and its late or partial release to providers means that additional bed capacity must be spot-purchased and clinical staff are hired on a temporary basis.
“If the money was built into the payment system in the way it was intended we would have a better and more resilient system for coping with surges in emergency and elective demand.”
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the NHS will be meeting elective waiting time targets by the end of the year.