Tens of thousands faced four-hour waits at Barts Health A&Es last year

Newham Hospital's Accident and Emergency Unit. Picture: Luke Acton.

Newham Hospital's Accident and Emergency Unit. Picture: Luke Acton. - Credit: Luke Acton

Tens of thousands of A&E patients at Barts Health waited more than four hours to be seen last year, new NHS figures reveal.

The data shows A&E patients at the NHS trust, which provides healthcare to Newham and Tower Hamlets, were left waiting more than four hours on 72,648 occasions in 2018/19.

It means only 86 per cent of around 504,000 attendances were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of arrival - below the NHS's target of 95pc.

The proportion of patients seen within the target time at Barts Health has dropped in recent years - the figure stood at 95pc in 2013/14.

A spokesman said: "This year we had 503,863 attendances at our emergency departments, which is more than any other trust in England. Despite a record number of A&E patients, across our hospitals we treated, admitted or discharged nearly 5,000 more people within four hours compared with last year.

"This is a testament to the hard work and professionalism of our teams, and the £2.4m investment we made to relieve emerging pressure points. We are already working closely with our partners to plan for the year ahead."

Experts have blamed a combination of staff shortages, a lack of funding, and increased demand for rising waiting times across England. Barts Health's performance of last year reflects the trend across the country. Just 88pc of emergency attendances were seen within four hours in 2018/19, compared to 96pc five years earlier.

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Tim Gardner is senior policy fellow at the charity the Health Foundation. He said the trend towards longer waits is likely to continue as hospitals grapple with rising demand, a workforce crisis and continued underfunding. A No-Deal Brexit will only make that worse, he added.

"Staffing shortages would be intensified, driving up demand for hard-pressed services, disrupting supplies of medicines and other necessities, and stretching the public finances which pay for health care," said Mr Gardner.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "We're backing the NHS with £1.8billion for world class facilities to improve frontline patient care across the country, on top of our historic commitment of £33.9billion extra taxpayers' money every year by 2023/24."