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Medics appalled by record-breaking increase in NHS waiting times

Labour's shadow health secretary warns of ‘dismal consequences’ as the NHS heads into winter after ‘the worst October on record’

“STARK” increases for A&E walk-ins, emergency admissions and waiting times last month have broken previous records, sparking warnings from medics and the Labour Party over an impending winter crisis.

Around 2.06 million people attended A&Es in October — 0.9 per cent more than in 2017, according to data released today by NHS England. A total of 89.1 per cent were admitted, transferred or discharged within the target of four hours.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said the figures should “ring alarm bells” for the NHS and the government as winter approaches.

BMA consultants committee chair Rob Harwood said: “This is further evidence of what the BMA has been saying for some time – we are no longer experiencing just a winter crisis in the NHS, it is now a truly year-round crisis.”

There were 542,435 emergency admissions to hospital via A&Es last month via — 5.7 per cent more than in the same period last year — while 48,650 patients had to wait more than four hours and 212 waited more than 12.

Shadow health and social care secretary Jonathan Ashworth said October had the joint lowest percentage of patients seen within four hours in A&E for any October since records began.

He warned of “dismal consequences” for patients as the NHS heads into winter “on the back of the worst October on record.”

“What’s more, with over 550,000 patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment, often in pain and distress, ministers cannot continue ducking their responsibilities towards bringing constitutional waiting time standards back under control,” he added.

“There wasn’t a penny extra for hospitals this winter in the Budget, yet ministers are quickly ratcheting up uncosted promises from the NHS budget over the next five years.”

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) highlighted figures which show 3,156 patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for hospital treatment by September.

This is an increase of 77.5 per cent from September last year.

RCN England director Tom Sandford said that staff shortages are “at the heart” of missed targets, such as more patients waiting over two months to start urgent cancer treatment than any time in the last three years.

He added that RCN projects that the number of vacant nursing places would increase from 42,000 to 48,000 in the next five years.

RCN is calling for £1 billion to fund nursing education to be included in the 10-year plan being drawn up for the NHS.

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