Cast your mind back to the first week of the year and it looked like the NHS was heading for Armageddon. Ambulances were queuing outside A&E units unable to handover their patients, trolleys were stacking up in corridors and there was hardly a bed free anywhere. Just five weeks on and it looks as if the ship has been steadied. On Thursday, NHS bosses were heralding the improvement in performance seen during January.

Is this true? Yes. But as with all statistics it depends which ones you choose and how you present them. The flagship target for A&E is the four-hour waiting time target. During January 85.3% of patients were seen in four hours, up from the 85.1% recorded in December. But does this represent a success? The target, after all, is 95% and has now been missed for 30 months in a row.

There are plenty in the health service – particularly those in the corridors of power – who argue it does, pointing out the health service has one of the toughest A&E targets in the world. Performance this winter is on a par with the last one. This has come despite rising numbers of people coming to A&E – and more of those needing to be admitted on to wards amid the worst flu season since 2011.

 

 

Original Article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42989197