NHS heading for one of its ‘bleakest’ ever winters after worst A&E performance

The NHS is heading for one of its “bleakest” ever winters, and 100,000 people could end up stuck on trolleys waiting for hospital beds, experts have said.

New figures from NHS England show that A&E performance is at its worst-ever level while the health service has also missed a raft of other targets, including how long people wait to start planned treatment and waits for cancer care.

The data comes as the Royal College of Surgeons called on political leaders to keep the 18-week wait for planned treatment – which is currently under review and could be scrapped.

The new NHS data shows that one in six patients waited longer than four hours in A&E in England during October – the worst-ever performance since the four-hour target was introduced in 2004.

Some 83.6% of patients arriving at A&E were treated or admitted in four hours.

The target is 95% but it has not been met since July 2015.

The data also showed that in September, 84.8% of patients started treatment within 18 weeks against a target of 92% – a continued decline in performance.

The target was last met in February 2016.

Nuffield Trust chief economist, Professor John Appleby, said: “These figures show the next government will immediately be faced with one of the bleakest winters in the NHS’s history.”

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