Almost one in 10 patients waited too long in the A&E departments in Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital in the last week of December it has been revealed.

And hospital staff missed the nationally-agreed target for seeing A&E patients in four hours for the fourth week running as it emerged pressure on England’s A&E departments has now reached record levels.

Staff at the two local hospitals insisted their performance varied week to week, with the quarterly figures for October to December standing at 92.7%.

They said roughly 200 patients a day turn up at each hospital’s casualty unit.

Health professionals have warned that the NHS is in “crisis” after waiting times in accident and emergency departments in England plummeted to their worst levels in more than a decade.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted meeting the A&E standard was proving tough, but pointed out that England has some of the toughest targets in the world.

He said: “Targets matter but not at any cost. The priority is to treat people with dignity and respect.”

The Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust saw 90.6% of patients within four hours in the week to December 28.

A & E department at Calderdale Royal Hospital
A & E department at Calderdale Royal Hospital
 

But the target is 95% and the Trust - which runs the Infirmary and the Calderdale hospital - last hit the target in the week ending November 30.

In the latest survey, it also revealed that 65 patients waited between four hours and 12 hours to be admitted to a ward.

A&E consultant and clinical lead Mark Davies, said: “We have seen an increasing numbers of patients, many requiring admission, which has placed huge pressures onthe system”.

The news comes as hospital chiefs have been consulting on sweeping plans to determine the future of the A&E units.

They favour a new system which would see the A & E department at Calderdale shut down, with an enhanced unit at Huddersfield, but the plans have been put on hold at the moment.

Across England, the target to see patients in A&E in less than four hours has been missed for an entire quarter, as performance fell to its lowest level in a decade.

Between October and December, just 92.6% of patients arriving in English A&Es were seen in less than four hours.

The performance is the worst quarterly result since the target was introduced at the end of 2004.

Major A&Es are continuing to struggle, with one in seven patients waiting more than four hours from arrival to admission, discharge or transfer in the week to December 28.

The worst performing trust in England was Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where a third (34%) of patients waited more than four hours in the week to December 28.

Responding to the publication of figures, Dr Mark Porter, British Medical Association council chairman, said: “Patients should be treated on the basis of need, rather than arbitrary targets, but these figures show the NHS is under unprecedented levels of pressure.

“Staff are working flat out but the system is struggling to cope with the sheer number of patients coming through the door.

“Growing pressure on services throughout the year means hospitals have no spare capacity to deal with the winter spike in demand.

“So patients are enduring delays in their treatment, and the NHS finds itself running just to stand still.”