Accident and Emergency Department (A&ED) are considered a barometer of how well the NHS is doing.
Worryingly, the NHS has struggled to achieve the four-hour waiting standard for the past 17 months.
The significant decline in performance has hit hospitals in east Kent who have the worst waiting times in the country.
These problems are not a result of one single cause, but a systematic failure in the health and care system. Not surprisingly, with the recent suspension of services in Kent & Canterbury’s Urgent Care there has been an increase in patients diverted to Ashford’s William Harvey and QEQM in Thanet, which has left close to 200 patients a day waiting in excess of four hours to be seen.
In east Kent, problems are compounded by poor access roads to the William Harvey and the QEQM, and the long distances people are forced to travel just to get to hospital.
Secamb, who provide ambulance services in the area, have struggled to meet the target call out times with just 67.3% of Red 1 (not breathing, no pulse) calls being on target and only 49.6% of Red 2 calls (stroke, seizures) being on time.
This means less than half of call outs for strokes and seizures arrive on time.
Long delays in A&E mean that ambulance crews are delayed taking hand-over and then not able to respond to community call outs. East Kent is facing complex problems and with increased demand for A&E services in the winter, this is going to have an impact on patient’s lives.