Hospital A&Es units in Essex still struggling to hit waiting time targets

The NHS target is for 95 per cent of patients to be seen within four hours.

But the Government announced a two-year plan to stabilise NHS services earlier this year which set a lower ‘recovery target’ of 76 per cent of patients being seen within four hours by March next year.

NHS England figures show there were 33,654 visits to A&E at Mid and South Essex NHS Trust in October.

Some 22,314 were seen within four hours – accounting for 66 per cent of arrivals.

It means Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust fell significantly short of the recovery target.

At the neighbouring East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Trust, which runs Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, 72 per cent of A&E patients were seen within four hours.

Across England, 70 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at A&Es last month, down from 72 per cent in September. The figure hit a record low of 65 per cent in December 2022.

Health think tank the King’s Fund said this winter will be “bleak” for the NHS, particularly as it faces high levels of flu and Covid-19 in the coming weeks.

And Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “Today’s figures are a stark reminder of the ongoing pressures the NHS is facing, particularly in emergency care with significant demand for ambulances and A&E, as we head into what we are expecting to be another challenging winter in the health service.”

He said local areas are prioritising urgent and emergency care as strikes have had a significant impact on staff and patients.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The NHS is seeing high demand for urgent and emergency care, including record A&E attendances for October, and we are backing it with billions of investment to improve performance.”

They said an additional £800million will be provided this winter to support services.