Nearly two-thirds of A&E arrivals at the Sussex University Hospitals Trust seen within four hours – missing NHS target

Nearly two-thirds of people who arrived at accident and emergency at the Sussex University Hospitals Trust were seen within four hours last month, new figures show – missing the NHS recovery target.
General view of an Accident and Emergency Sign at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. General view of an Accident and Emergency Sign at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.
General view of an Accident and Emergency Sign at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

Nearly two-thirds of people who arrived at accident and emergency at the Sussex University Hospitals Trust were seen within four hours last month, new figures show – missing the NHS recovery target.

The NHS standard is for 95% of patients to be seen within four hours. However, the Government announced a two-year plan to stabilise NHS services earlier this year which set a recovery target of 76% of patients being seen within four hours by March 2024.

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NHS England figures show there were 30,531 visits to A&E at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust in January. Of them, 19,965 were seen within four hours – accounting for 65% of arrivals.

It means the trust fell significantly short of the recovery target and the NHS standard.

Across England, 70% of patients were seen within four hours – up slightly from 69% the month before.

However, the number of people waiting at least four hours from the decision to admit to actually being admitted jumped from 148,282 in December to 158,721 in January – the second highest figure on record.

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The number of people waiting more than 12 hours to be admitted also increased sharply, from 44,045 patients in December to 54,308 last month. It was also the second highest figure on record.

At University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, 3,116 patients waited longer than four hours, including 1,386 who were delayed by more than 12 hours.

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of the health tink tank King’s Fund, said "waiting time standards set by the Government – and expected by the public – are being consistently missed".

She added: "It has been over eight years since the A&E target of 95% of people being seen within four hours has been met nationally."

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"There are no quick fixes to this long-term issue, but the solutions will lie in bolstering out-of-hospital care such as primary, community and social care services, making health and care a more attractive place to build a career, and ramping up efforts to help people live healthier lives," she said.

About 2.2 million people attended A&E departments across England last month – a record high for January.

The overall number of attendances to A&E at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust in January was a slight rise from the 30,380 visits recorded during December, and 18% more than the 25,829 patients seen in January 2022.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said the NHS is seeing more patients coming forward with "complex and severe conditions" as the number of emergency admissions from A&E was up 10% on the previous January.

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He added: "The figures for last week demonstrate winter pressures continue to hit the NHS hard, with hundreds more flu patients in hospital every day compared to last year, and challenges discharging patients effecting bed occupancy and the speed at which patients flow through hospitals.