‘Unprecedented’ hot weather blamed for missed four-hour Accident and Emergency target

QEQM Photo Chris Constantine

Data released by NHS England for accident and emergency waiting times in July shows just over 20% of patients waited four or more hours to be seen at QEQM in Margate and the WHH in Ashford.

Of 19,963 East Kent Hospital trust A&E attendances some 4,156 patients waited over the four-hour target.

Figures for Kent as a whole show one in eight people waiting beyond the target time.

South Thanet parliamentary hopeful for Labour, Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt, has called the statistics ‘shocking’ but East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) says an ‘extraordinary’ amount of people attended A&E with illness related to the ‘unprecedented’ Summer temperatures.

Rebecca Gordon-Nesbit said: “This is a truly shocking situation. Margate and Ashford hospitals are failing to meet minimum targets for A&E. This is the result of years of cuts to the NHS as a whole.

“The pledge in the NHS mandate sets out that four hours should be the maximum waiting time, but in July out of just under 20,000 attendances one in five people waited for more than four hours. It’s intolerable.

“Four hours already seems far too long to be waiting in A&E, but for so many people here to be waiting longer is absolutely beyond the pale.”

The Labour parliamentary candidate says the figures confirm the warnings of Save Our NHS in Kent campaigners about the cost of lack of investment in the service.

She said: “All forms of health care in our area are buckling under the strain, with large numbers ending up waiting these unacceptable times in A&E.

“We cannot sustain our health system without putting far more funding into it. Cuts, privatisation and wrongheaded reorganisation have all contributed to this crisis. Only large-scale investment in the NHS can solve it – and we urgently need a new Labour government to do that.”

EKHUFT say the figures need to improve but show sustained progress compared to data from July 2017.

Susan Acott, Chief Executive, said: “Like the rest of the NHS, we cared for an extraordinarily high number of ill patients during the recent unprecedented hot weather.

“East Kent Hospitals staff have done an amazing job over this period, caring for very high numbers of patients attending our hospitals.

“Because the most critically ill patients are seen first some people have waited longer than we would like in our emergency departments before being admitted to a ward or discharged.

“In July, 79.2% of our patients were seen within 4 hours. Although we still have improvements to make, this is up from 71.2% in July last year, showing real sustained progress.

“The Trust last reached 80% in June 2018. It is 11 months into its A&E recovery plan, launched in September 2017.”

The plan has involved  recruiting more staff and speeding up access to scans as part of steps to improve waiting times for both emergency treatment and planned surgery.


  1. Not only is 4 hours an intolerably long time, waiting to be seen (NOT the fault of the staff) but think of the wasted hours spent by the patients and any adult accompanying them who may have had to take time off work – what a waste of precious time!

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