The worst-performing A&E departments in England have been named and shamed in a league table of NHS figures.

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust has recorded a 29 per cent drop in patients being seen within the four-hour time target over the last three years.

More than half of all hospital trusts in the country have seen their performance slide since January 2017, according to data analysed by the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

The figures compared annual records of how many A&E patients 132 hospital trusts were seen within four hours of their arrival in January.

Seeing 95 per cent of patients within four hours is the NHS target, but it’s regularly breached and bosses have even suggested it could be scrapped in the near future.

Overall, the NHS’s performance dropped by 1.43 per cent during the two-year period, from 78.2 per cent of patients being treated in time down to 76.72 per cent.

But many hospitals have seen far bigger drops.

Falling from 78.3 per cent in the first month of 2017 to 49.2 per cent this year, the NHS in Croydon, south London, was the worst performer – a 29.1 per cent slip.

This has made it the worst ranked A&E by this measure and the fall from grace has seen it drop from being 62nd best performing to 132nd – the bottom of the table.

In its footsteps were United Lincolnshire Hospitals, which fell by 20.2 per cent, and Plymouth Hospitals, which fell by 19.8 per cent. 

Barking, Havering and Redbridge; Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh; Torbay and South Devon; Lancashire Teaching Hospitals; Nottingham University and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals complete the 10 with the biggest lapses.

‘[The figures] would appear to represent the extension of the trends we have long warned about,’ Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers told the HSJ.

Ms Deakin said hospitals are facing rising numbers of ageing patients with ‘complex’ conditions.

She added: ‘As ever A&E performance is a barometer for the health and care system as a whole and these figures highlight the need for sufficient investment in services which keep people well in the community and prevent them presenting at A&E in crisis or once their conditions have deteriorated, as well as in accident and emergency care.’

The head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, confirmed in January the NHS would be trialling new targets instead of the 95 per cent within four hours it currently uses.

It was not clear what the new trial targets might be, but experts immediately retaliated to say the move would be the wrong approach.

Dr Taj Hassan, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said: ‘In our expert opinion, scrapping the four-hour target will have a near-catastrophic impact on patient safety in many emergency departments that are already struggling to deliver safe patient care in a wider system that is failing badly.

‘We will be seeking urgent clarification from NHS England and NHS Improvement on their position and describing the likely unintended consequences of such a poorly thought out strategic policy shift.

‘Let’s be very clear. This is far from being in the best interest of patients and will only serve to bury problems in a health service that will be severely tested by yet another optimistic reconfiguration.’

A total of 74 trusts saw their performance get worse, while 58 are now more likely to get a patient seen within four hours than they were in 2017.

The best improvement was made by Aintree University Hospital Trust, in Liverpool, which bettered its figure by almost a fifth (19.4 per cent).

Weston Area Health Trust, in Somerset, and London North West Healthcare were also in the top three, making improvements of more than 16 per cent.

The figures only concern 24-hour A&E departments designed to handle critical patients, such as those found in major hospitals. 

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