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Trolley waits in England rise sixfold in six years, show latest figures

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j222 (Published 13 January 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j222
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

As the war of words over NHS financing becomes increasingly bitter,12 the statistics that track its performance have acquired a prominence they last enjoyed in the late 1990s, when Tony Blair’s first government was struggling to meet its promise to cut waiting lists.

A huge quantity of data are published by the NHS in England covering all parts of the service. As in the 1990s, the keenest attention is always paid to hospital performance, where data on key measures are published monthly. The latest release, covering the period to the end of November 2016, appeared on 12 January.3

Emergency department waits

The NHS Constitution sets the standard that 95% of patients attending hospital accident and emergency departments should be seen, admitted, or discharged within four hours. In July 2016 NHS Improvement changed the rules slightly, saying that for 2016-17 the aim of hospital trusts should be to improve so that by quarter 4 they could once more meet the standard. So they will be judged in the short term by their rate of improvement, rather than by whether they hit the target.

In …

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