West London patients face some of the longest A&E waiting times in the country, due to “under-resourcing, understaffing, and increased workloads”, says Hillingdon and Ealing 's London Assembly Member.
In January, more than 3,000 patients were left waiting to be seen for more than four hours at London North West Healthcare Trust A&E, whilst The Hillingdon Hospitals Trust A&E failed to see more than 1,500 patients within four hours.
NHS data shows a continuing trend of decline in waiting times for the most serious emergency cases at both trusts.
A&Es are expected to treat 95% of patients within four hours, in accordance with NHS standard waiting time targets.
At the Hillingdon Hospital Trust A&E department, a total of 1,574 patients had to wait longer than four hours – almost a threefold increase over the last eight months. London North West Hospitals trust saw 3,291 patients wait longer than four hours.
Dr Onkar Sahota AM, Labour London Assembly Member for Ealing and Hillingdon, said: “These figures represent the utter failure of the government to recognise the desperate situation in west London hospitals.
“Under-resourcing, understaffing, and increased workloads are causing these failures.
“As our emergency services struggle, the Mayor of London and the government have ignored our cries for help.
“Let’s not forget, the Mayor has a responsibility to address health inequalities in our capital, and residents in west London are going to be left asking why they aren’t getting the same level of service as others.”
'Recent and dramatic decline'
Following the closure of Central Middlesex A&E department and Imperial A&E department in October 2014, London North West Trust has constantly performed significantly below the national average.
The Hillingdon Hospitals trust has seen a more recent and dramatic decline in performance, the Labour AM says.
Dr Sahota added: “Our Ambulances are missing their targets, our GP waiting times are getting longer, Trusts deficits are getting worse and the A&E system in west London is failing patients.
“What will it take for the Mayor and the government to stand up for Londoners?’
NHS Trust 'exceptionally challenged'
Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust say that they were “exceptionally challenged” during January 2016, with 5,191 attendances in the month alone.
A spokesperson for the trust said: “This was an increase of 500 attendances (10%) when compared with the same period in 14/15.
“In addition, the number of patients we are receiving via ambulance as emergencies has increased year on year by 16%.
“The trust, in collaboration with Hillingdon CCG (HCCG), hosted a series of multidisciplinary workshops in January with the primary aim of improving patient flow in the Emergency Department (ED).
“A key aspect of the work focuses on increasing capacity within the A&E department to better meet surges in demand.
“In addition, it concentrates on refining current pathways and developing new pathways of care that either avoid the patient coming into the ED or allow for early transfer of care to specialty teams.”
New procedures introduced
London North West Healthcare NHS Trust says its Emergency Departments remain busy "in line with pressures felt every winter".
A spokesperson for the trust, which looks after Central Middlesex, Ealing, Northwick Park and St Mark's hospitals, said: "T here has been a steady increase in attendances year on year.
"We are working with local health partners to ensure patients are being treated and cared for in the most appropriate facility, be that in hospital or in the community.
"We recently opened a new ward block at Northwick Park hospital, providing 63 new beds.
"We have introduced new procedures and forged close links with the London Ambulance Service and Clinical Commissioning Groups to better manage the demand to ensure patient safety at all times - and we are pleased to say that we have seen an improvement in A&E waiting times.”