NHS not meeting targets: minister

Published: Tuesday 6th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Health Minister Norman Lamb has admitted the NHS “is not meeting” its targets, as new figures today are expected to show that A&E waiting times have fallen to their worst level for a decade.

Many hospitals have struggled under the pressure this winter, with some failing to meet the target of dealing with 95% of patients within four hours.

The latest figures, which cover October to December and will be released later this morning, are expected to be the worst since this target was introduced a decade ago.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Lamb said Britain’s ageing population means hospitals are having to treat older patients with chronic conditions.

He said: “We rightly have the toughest targets in the developed world. We are not meeting them.

“We are living longer, the pressures of people living with chronic conditions. We hear lots of reports from A&E departments of older people particularly turning up more ill than they have in the past.”

The Liberal Democrat minister called for all political parties to work together and come up with a plan to secure the long-term funding of the NHS.

He said: “I’m also saying that the NHS is so important, to all of us, that I think it goes beyond party politics. We all understand the pressures.

“Anyone who thinks that Labour coming into power means all these problems will disappear would be in fantasy land.

“So let’s get all the parties together, this year, to have a fundamental review, engage the public in a debate and discussion about how we sustain the NHS. It’s too important to allow this vital service to be undermined.”

His comments come amid growing pressure on hospitals with a number declaring “major incidents” in recent days because of A&E pressures.

A surge in demand at emergency departments has forced several hospital trusts to activate major incident plans.

Gloucester Royal, Cheltenham General Hospital and Scarborough Hospital have implemented the emergency measure.

The Royal Surrey County Hospital and United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust also said they were putting plans in place as they tried to cope with demand.

Managers at Scarborough Hospital said the situation had been brought on by an “unprecedented surge in demand”.

The hospital said the decision was taken after patients had been waiting in its emergency department yesterday, unable to be admitted to the main hospital due a lack of beds.

The move means some non-emergency operations have been postponed.

Published: Tuesday 6th January 2015 by The News Editor

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