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A&E waiting times hit 15 year high as Tories 'push NHS into crisis'

A&E waiting times have hit their worst levels on record, new figures reveal just weeks before voters go to the polls.

NHS England data shows just 83.6% of patients were admitted or treated within four hours – well below the government's target of 95%.

This target was introduced under Labour in 2004, but has not been met since July 2015.

Nearly one in four cancer patients are waiting more than 62 days for their treatment to begin, figures show.

Jeremy Corbyn has branded the figures "disgraceful".

Labour's shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth posted on Twitter: "It’s official – the Tories have pushed our NHS into crisis."

He said the Conservatives should apologise to patients "languishing" on trollies and waiting for treatment after a decade of cuts.

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Of the 118 trusts with Type 1 A&E departments – the highest level, with 24 hour cover and full resuscitation facilities  – just three met the 95% target.

More than 80,000 patients had to wait more than four hours to be admitted after medics made the decision to admit them, NHS England reveals.

And in September the NHS revealed 76.9% of cancer patients were beginning treatment within 62 days – well short of the 85% target.

Mr Corbyn said: "That's one in five of everyone accessing an A&E department hasn't been seen within the required four hours.

"The four-hour limit of seeing people was brought in under the previous Labour government, as was the two-week wait for cancer treatment. Neither of which are being met across the whole country.

"It is disgraceful and it is a problem of the lack of staff and the lack of funding for it."

Mr Corbyn reiterated Labour's NHS spending plans, "which will deal with all of that".

After the figures were published Mr Ashworth said: "The Conservatives have ushered in the worst NHS crisis on record.

“Under Boris Johnson the NHS is in crisis and we’re heading for a winter of abject misery for patients.

“Our A&Es are overwhelmed, more so than ever. In every community there’s an ever growing queue of people waiting for treatment.

“The Tories spent a decade cutting over 15,000 beds. Now they should apologise to every patient languishing on a trolley and waiting longer for treatment.

“These figures starkly show why patients desperately need Labour’s £40 billion rescue plan.”

Despite the target not being met once since he became Health Secretary, Tory Matt Hancock launched an attack on Labour.

He said: “These figures show just how important it is that we stop Jeremy Corbyn. We are giving the biggest cash boost ever to our NHS, but Corbyn’s chaotic policies will put that at risk."

He claimed Labour plans for a four day week and "unlimited immigration" could leave the NHS understaffed and underfunded.

Labour said yesterday that a 32 hour working week affecting all employees would be introduced over a decade, and rubbished Conservative claims it would cause chaos.

Nuffield Trust chief economist, Professor John Appleby, said: "These figures show the next government will immediately be faced with one of the bleakest winters in the NHS's history."

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Patients left in agony on trolleys for hours and poorly visitors waiting for hours in A&E, forced to sit on floors because of a lack of chairs, has become the new normal.

“Years of underfunding and an endless staffing crisis show the Conservatives are simply not fit to run our NHS.

"These are the worst ever A&E figures yet the winter has barely begun. It’s a shocking state of affairs and should be of huge concern to every one of us.

“The pressure on hospitals is going through the roof because of the failure to tackle the social care mess. The next government must put the health of the nation and the NHS as its top priorities.”

A year ago 89.1% of A&E patients were treated within four hours – meaning there has been a drop of nearly 6% in the past 12 months.

Last month the number of attendances at A&E departments was 2,170,510 – a 4.4% rise from the previous year.

There were 563,079 emergency admissions – a 3.1% increase.

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