London's A&Es Struggling With Patient Waiting Times

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 41 months ago
London's A&Es Struggling With Patient Waiting Times

Photo by Arpad Lukacs from the Londonist Flickr pool

Two months after A&E departments at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals were downgraded into Urgent Care Centres, we've had a press release from the London Assembly Labour group telling us that A&E waiting times at North West London NHS Trust recently became the less-than-proud owner of the 'worst performer in England' badge.

In the week ending 19 October, only 67.8% of patients needing 'proper' A&E care were seen within four hours (the government's target is 95%). The following week, the trust saw 73.3% of A&E patients within four hours. No other NHS trust performed so poorly in that period. However, we wanted to see what the trust's figures were like before Hammersmith and Central Middlesex were downgraded. We looked at the data for week ending 7 September, the last full week before the closures, and saw that NW London was still only managing to see 75.5% of A&E patients within four hours (two other trusts performed worse). The trust has clearly been having problems for some time.

We actually found something more alarming in the figures Labour sent us. Of the 20 worst performing NHS trusts for A&E patient waiting times, five were in London w/e 19 October (NW London; Barking, Havering and Redbridge on 75.5%, Hillingdon on 81.1%, Imperial on 82.5% and Lewisham and Greenwich on 83.1%) and four were in London w/e 26 October (NW London; Barking, Havering and Redbridge on 77.9%, Hillingdon on 79.3% and Lewisham and Greenwich on 82.8%).

For the most recent week for which information is available (w/e 2 November), only three London NHS trusts hit the government's 95% target: Homerton, Kingston and University College London. Five trusts reached the target for the w/e 7 September: Homerton, Kingston, North Middlesex, St George's and Whittington (Guy's and St Thomas's nearly made it with 94.9%). And this is before the weather turns really cold and flu season stretches capacity further. London has 19 NHS trusts with emergency units: when it comes to A&E, this really is looking like a postcode lottery.

Last Updated 10 November 2014


This piece of writing could be a lot better. Yes you have numbers, congratulations; and yes two departments have been downgraded. Why not look into why London's departments are so busy, the amount of non-appropriate visits made to A&E by Londoners, the lack of availiability of GP's and the low budget that the NHS has to cope with in London. It's an incredibly busy city, unlike any other. It just seemed that you were solely blaming the hospitals and their respective boroughs.

This is a huge issue, one that is only going to get worse (increasing population, reducing budgets etc) reporting, and bring it to peoples attention is great, just try to piece together the bigger picture before commenting.


Shouldn't it be pointed out that photo is of uclh, the hospital which is meeting the A&E target, not north west London trust


North West London Trust has messed up badly. They allowed Hammersmith and Central Middlesex A&Es to close before they opened their new £20 million A&E at Northwick Park. This is simply bad management on their part. It was meant to open "in the autumn" and still hasn't.

The largest factor in NHS finances is the £20 billion a year Nicholson Challenge kicked off by Labour's Andy Burnham in 2009. The NHS North West London "Shaping a Healthier Future" programme (SaHF) is just the local roll out of Nicholson as is made clear in the introduction of their consultation document. Beyond the financial driver SaHF simply implements the ideas of Labour's Darzi Review. The Labour party's denounciation of this scheme has been one of the most nakedly hypocritical campaigns ever run in London.

Just to make sure Labour had cover to proceed with Nicholson, it was put in the 2010 Labour manifesto on page 4:3.

Labour has no plans to undo Nicholson and will have to preside over the £22 billion of further savings signaled by by Nicholson's successor Simon Stevens.