Three in five patients attending major A&E at the Somerset Trust waited longer than four hours to be dealt with last month, figures show.

The King’s Fund health think tank said there is “no shying away from the reality that the NHS is deep in crisis”, after A&E performance dropped to the worst on record across England at the end of 2022.

NHS guidance states that 95% of patients attending accident and emergency departments should be admitted to hospital, transferred elsewhere or discharged within four hours.

But Somerset NHS Foundation Trust fell well behind that target in December, when just 40% of the 6,833 attendances at type 1 A&E departments were dealt with within four hours, according to figures from NHS England.

It means 60% of patients attending major A&E at the Somerset Trust waited longer than four hours to be seen last month, compared to 46% in November, and 43% in December 2021.

Type 1 departments are those which provide major emergency services – with full resuscitation equipment and 24-hour consultant-led care – and account for the majority of attendances nationally.

Including the 9,006 attendances at other accident and emergency departments, such as minor A&Es and those with single specialties, 70% of A&E patients were seen by the trust within the target time in December.

The 95% standard has not been met across the NHS in England since July 2015 – and last month, just 65% of A&E attendances were admitted transferred or discharged within four hours, marking the worst performance on record.

This compared to 73% in December 2021 and 80% in December 2020.

Performance was worse in type 1 departments, where just 50% of patients were seen within the target time in December, down from 61% during the same month last year, and 72% two years earlier.

Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at the King’s Fund, said: “Since modern records began, A&E performance is the worst it has ever been and not a single NHS trust in the country is managing to meet the national target to be seen within four hours.

NHS medical director Stephen Powis said staff are continuing to work hard in the face of "extreme pressures".

At Somerset NHS Foundation Trust:

In December:

  • 794 patients waited longer than four hours for treatment following a decision to admit – 5% of patients
  • Of those, 165 were delayed by more than 12 hours

Separate NHS Digital data reveals that in October:

  • The median time to treatment was 62 minutes. The median average is used to ensure figures are not skewed by particularly long or short waiting times
  • Around 2% of patients left before being treated