28 Feb 2024

England A&Es worse than Scotland and Wales on key 4 hour target, analysis finds

Data Correspondent and Presenter

During Prime Minister’s Questions today, Rishi Sunak said it was a fact that the Labour-run Welsh NHS is performing the worst in the United Kingdom.

Today, the Office for National Statistics published a comparison of the proportion of patients waiting more than four hours in A&E and found that on this key NHS measure, the worst performing was England, followed by Wales, with Scotland faring best.

Though in all three nations, things have got worse over the past decade.

Responding to the findings, the Department of Health in England told us cutting waiting lists is one of the government’s top priorities and that A&E performance improved this January compared to the previous month. The Welsh government told us that patients have more complex needs and staffing pressures are an issue – and said it’s invested £50 million over two years so people don’t have to go to A&E. We contacted the Scottish government for comment.

The Scottish government told us that issues including “pandemic backlogs, Brexit-exacerbated staff shortages, delayed discharges and high numbers of patients who are acutely unwell” have contributed to A&E pressure.

NHS England told us that the service has experienced pressure from “increased demand, a pandemic, and unprecedented periods of industrial action” — and that it has seen “significant improvement” in ambulance and A&E care since publishing its urgent and emergency care plan.