Hospitals with worst performing A&Es set to cut services

With NHS England needing to save £22bn by 2021, every region has had to submit plans showing how they will remain financially stable Credit: ITV News

Some of the hospitals with the worst-performing A&E departments in England are planning to cut their services.

ITV News has been given new research by the campaign group 38 degrees, which compares current A&E performance with plans to save billions of pounds in the NHS over the next five years.

It shows 11 of the 15 regions reporting the worst falls in performance are considering closing or downgrading services, or reducing the number of acute beds available.

Yet in the first week of January alone four in 10 English hospitals declared major alerts as they dealt with unprecedented pressures.

In January four in 10 English hospitals declared major alerts Credit: ITV News

Hospitals have a four-hour target for A&E patients which they are meant to deliver in 95% of cases.

But patients are waiting longer now than at any time since the target was introduced in 2004.

With NHS England needing to save £22 billion by 2021, every region in the country has had to submit a "Sustainability and Transformation Plan" showing how services will be changed to ensure they are financially sustainable.

Some of the 44 plans are much vaguer than others.

But analysis of the figures that are available show many areas with the most drastic falls in performance are planning to further reduce A&E capacity.

These include:

  • Staffordshire, where performance on the four-hour target fell by 11% in the last year to just 80% of patients. Plans include proposals to close one of the three A&E sites to reduce the area’s NHS deficit of nearly half a billion pounds

  • One A&E centre in either Telford or Shrewsbury will close, despite on-time A&E treatments in the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin area already falling by 9% in the last year to 81%

  • The Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland area saw the worst fall in A&E performance in the country over the last year, a drop of 20.7% Nearly 250 acute beds will be cut there over the next four years.

  • In Mid and South Essex, where A&E performance fell by nearly 7% in the last year, plans are being considered to downgrade two of the area's A&Es.

  • Nottinghamshire saw the fourth-worst fall in performance in England in the year to September 2016, a 14.3% decline. Plans for Nottinghamshire include closing 200 hospital beds. The plan also indicates that even with these changes, they'll still be £38m short of the funds it needs to balance the area's books.

Patients are waiting longer now than ever at A&Es Credit: ITV News

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed last week the government plans will see one-third of hospital beds cut in "the very near future."

That figure is impossible to verify. But the analysis by 38 Degrees suggests that if the trend of the last three years continues, over 2.6 million people will spend over four hours waiting at A&E in 2017, up from 2.1 million in 2016.

Campaign manager Amy Lockwood said, "At a time when patients are waiting in corridors, closing hospital beds to save money is the last thing we should be doing".

An NHS England spokesperson said described the prediction as "wide of the mark."

"We need to redesign the NHS urgent care 'front door', and over the next few years we're going to make it easier to see a GP, speed up cancer diagnosis and offer help faster to people with mental health problems," the spokesperson said.

"These steady incremental improvements will tackle things patients, nurses and doctors have been telling us for years."