A&E Waiting Times. Percentages are no guide

The government recently said “they do not recognise the figures” released about people waiting more than 4 hours in hospitals.

Using percentages has hidden the decline in performance in A&E departments! The actual number of people waiting more than 4 hours has been rising consistently; the “4 hour” target has done nothing to stop this.

Looking at the above chart you will see that ACTUAL numbers (of people waiting more than 4 hours) have risen from around 50,000 in 2010 to 270,000 at the end of 2016.


Lessons to learn:

  1. Percentages are not a good measure to use to monitor improvement
  2. Targets have not worked! The figures have been manipulated to meet the government targets until it has been impossible to fiddle anymore!
  3. Brian Joiner said: If you manage people by targets they will do one of three things;
    a) work to improve the system. If they can’t do that, as they often are not:
    b) distort the sytems and
    c) distort the data.


The above chart shows how many people waited more than 12 hours before being admitted to hospital.

These figures reflect a failure in management and government. The NHS is in desperate need of clear process excellence programmes, with a clarity and continuity of purpose. The chart clearly shows the increase of numbers after 2014. These are government figures!

Let me be clear; I am not complaining against the NHS staff, but against the system which makes their job impossible to excel at.

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