More than 20,000 hospital patients in South Yorkshire waited at least four hours to be seen at A&E departments in the last six months, according to new figures.
Accident and emergency units in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster struggled to meet the Government’s 95 per cent target for patients to be seen.
Departments have come under pressure from patients visiting with a wide variety of ailments and the aftermath of the severe winter weather.
Nearly 7,500 people had to wait for longer than four hours at Sheffield’s adult and children’s A&E units, while in Barnsley the target was missed for 3,535 patients.
NHS England figures also showed that in Rotherham, 2,157 patients waited longer than four hours, and in Doncaster 7,255 did so.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – which runs Northern General Hospital – said it ‘consistently achieved’ the target until recently.
Professor Hilary Chapman, chief nurse, said: “During last winter and into this spring our A&E department was under huge pressure as the number of attendances and emergency patients admitted rose to unprecedented levels.
“This, coupled with extreme weather and an increase in flu and norovirus cases, meant we narrowly missed the standard and achieved 93.2 per cent despite huge efforts by staff to treat all patients as promptly as possible.”
Additional staff are to be appointed and the size of the hospital’s A&E increased to help achieve the standard, she added.
Julie Morcambe, senior nurse in the emergency department at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our A&E waiting times vary at different times of the day but we see families and children in priority of clinical need.
“While we understand this can be frustrating we always work hard to keep the waiting times down and as far as possible below four hours.
“We have a good record with meeting this target but urge parents to ensure they go to the right place for the right care.”
Michael Dugher, MP for Barnsley East, said he was concerned that ‘patients were suffering’ as there were fewer nurses.