• Official data shows steep year-on-year decline in A&E performance for quarter one
  • National performance for traditionally quiet three months worst in eight years
  • Lancashire and London have worst-performing trusts

The NHS has recorded its worst first quarter accident and emergency performance since records started, data released this morning revealed.

Performance against the four-hour target in April, May and June was significantly worse than the previous three years, the official statistics showed.

The service saw 85.3 per cent of patients in April within four hours, 86.6 per cent in May and 86.4 per cent in June, against a national target of 95 per cent. 

In the past three years, the national performance against the all-types performance was around 90 per cent in Q1.

The latest figures come at a time when NHS England and Improvement is reviewing the four-hour target, which has not been achieved since August 2014. As part of this, it is trialing potential new measures at 14 trusts, which have not reported their four-hour data since this April

Of the trusts that reported A&E performance for June 2019, London and Lancashire had the worst performing trusts against the type one measure, which looks at data from units with a 24/7 consultant presence.

Of the 10 trusts with the lowest performance against the 95 per cent target, four – King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust, The Hillingdon Hospitals FT, Croydon Health Services Trust and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust – were in London. The two of the lowest performers in June were Lancashire Teaching Hospitals FT and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals FT, which recorded performances of 56.2 per cent and 60.5 per cent respectively.

Of the sustainability and transformation partnership areas, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire had the worst performance at 66.3 per cent.

NHSE/I also released data for performance of waiting lists for elective procedures today, which broke records for the third month in a row. The total waiting list has now exceeded 4 million for the whole of the 2018-19 financial year – higher than any time since records started in 2007-08.

NHSE/I pointed out the number of patients waiting more than a year in May had fallen 67 per cent, to 1,032 – but it never discloses how many of these procedures have been outsourced to private providers.

Director of research and chief economist at the Nuffield Trust John Appleby told HSJ: ”The performance data looks pretty appalling. Trolley waits waits up, diagnostic waits up, A&E four percentage points worse than the same period last year. Elective waits at record highs.

“We know each target has driven good practice in the past is now being missed. The targets are there because they are fundamental”

“Clearly if hardly anybody is meeting the target then what is the point of the target anymore?”

Director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers Miriam Deakin said: ”Historically, the summer months have been a time of year when the NHS could catch its breath and recover performance following high demand over the winter. The monthly performance figures, including those released today, show that this is no longer the case. Demand continues to rise placing sustained pressure on frontline services.”

The Nuffield Trust’s director of strategy Helen Buckingham said: “Today’s figures show hospitals are increasingly under strain too, with the number of people waiting for planned care rising sharply to 4.4 million in May of this year.”

A spokesman for NHSE/I said: ”Local areas across the NHS are now reviewing the extra staffing and capital investment in facilities and diagnostics they will need for the next five years, ahead of national decisions on these later this year.”