Nearly three-quarters of people who arrived at A&E in the Somerset Trust were seen within four hours last month, new figures show – missing the NHS recovery target.

The NHS standard is for 95% of patients to be seen within four hours. However, the Government announced a two-year plan to stabilise NHS services earlier this year which set a recovery target of 76% of patients being seen within four hours by March 2024.

NHS England figures show there were 21,337 visits to A&E at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust in September. Of them, 15,476 were seen within four hours – accounting for 73% of arrivals.

It means Somerset NHS Foundation Trust fell short of the NHS standard and the recovery target.

Across England, some 72% of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged from A&E within four hours last month, down from 73% in August. The figure hit a record low of 65% in December 2022.

In September, 33,107 arrivals in A&E waited more than 12 hours from a decision to admit to actually being admitted – up 15% from August.

At Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, 672 patients waited longer than four hours, including 62 who were delayed by more than 12 hours.

Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at the health think tank The King's Fund, said A&E departments have had a busy summer and are now facing a "punishing winter".

He added: "A combination of thinking long term about improving people’s access to out-of-hospital care, making health and social care a more attractive career, and tackling the biggest risk factors affecting people’s health, is what will slowly reverse the decline in NHS performance.

Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said NHS acute care services continued to be under "immense strain" with clinicians expecting the coming months to be as "chaotic and challenging" as last winter.

The overall number of attendances to A&E at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust in September was a drop of 1% on the 21,509 visits recorded during August, but 2% more than the 20,913 patients seen in September 2022.

Figures from last year include Yeovil District Hospital Trust, which was acquired by Somerset Trust in April.

Across England, A&E departments received 2.2 million visits last month – up slightly from August, and an 8% jump from the number of visits seen in September 2022.

NHS England said last month was the busiest September ever for A&E attendance as industrial action and high levels of demand have piled pressure on services.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said despite the pressure, the figures show NHS staff are "working incredibly hard to deliver for patients".

He added the health service delivered on its ambition to roll out 10,000 virtual ward beds by the end of September.

More than 240,000 patients have now been treated on virtual wards, the NHS said, adding that research shows people who are treated at home recover at the same rate or faster than those in hospital.