“Fears of a winter crisis chaos across hospitals have been raised after new figures have shown A&E waiting times in parts of Devon are already worse than would be expected during the hardest months of the year.
NHS figures show 72.8 per cent of people arriving at Royal Devon and Exeter NHS trust’s major A&Es waited less than four hours before being admitted, discharged or transferred.
It is the trust’s worst performance since A&E waiting times began to be measured on a monthly basis in June 2015. Performance has been deteriorating at the trust since March this year. The target is 95 per cent.
The RD&E says the reason is due to ‘very high’ patient demand, staffing pressures and shortages in the care sector.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned poor A&E performance in September meant the NHS was on a “collision course” for what is likely to be the worst winter ever.
Overall, 81.9 per cent of patients waited less than four hours at all A&Es and minor injury units run by the RD&E in September.
Across England, 77 per cent of people waited less than four hours in major A&Es in September before being admitted, discharged or transferred.
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “The NHS has just experienced its worst-ever summer. This is incredibly alarming and should be taken as a serious warning sign of the chaos that is likely to unfold in the NHS this coming winter.
“With summer performance now as bad as recent winters, we have reached a point of year-round crisis and the Government cannot continue to let this happen.
“September A&E waits were the worst performance record outside of winter since 2010 and trolley waits and referrals to treatment are worse than we have seen in the last decade.
“Patient care is suffering, NHS staff working tirelessly around the clock are suffering, and with Brexit on the horizon and early indicators of an extremely cold winter, we are on a collision course for what is likely to be the worst winter ever.
“This is a serious plea – we need to see investment across the board including community and social care, and resources such as more beds, reaching the frontline now.”