Fewer patients visited A&E at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust last month – but attendances were higher than over the same period last year, figures reveal.

NHS England figures show 14,100 patients visited A&E at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust in January.

That was a drop of 12% on the 16,035 visits recorded during December, but 12% more than the 12,555 patients seen in January 2022.

Health think tank, the King's Fund, said it has been a tough start to the year for the NHS, and current figures show services "are not out of the woods yet".

Danielle Jefferies, policy analyst, said: "The unfortunate reality is that the road to recovery for the health and care system is long, with growing financial pressures, staffing shortages, and an NHS in crisis, all amounting to waiting lists being miles off where they should be under national targets."

The figures show attendances were above the levels seen two years ago – in January 2021, there were 8,448 visits to A&E departments run by Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust.

The majority of attendances last month were via minor A&E departments – those which treat minor injuries and illnesses such as fractures, cuts and bruises – while 37% were via major departments, with full resuscitation equipment and 24-hour consultant-led care.

Across England, A&E departments received 2 million visits last month.

That was a decrease of 14% compared to December, but 5% more than the 1.9 million seen during January 2022.

Jessica Morris, fellow at the Nuffield Trust, said: "January saw a welcome improvement in A&E and ambulance waiting times, but this reflects just how difficult December was for health and care services rather than a more significant bounce-back in NHS performance.

"Urgent and emergency care was hit at all sides by the early and harsh flu season, ongoing Covid pressures, cold weather and industrial action.

"It is good to see things moving in the right direction again, but we aren’t through winter yet and we should not underestimate how much pressure NHS staff remain under."

NHS England’s national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: "Today’s figures show that despite ongoing pressures across the health service, including industrial action, NHS staff are continuing to work flat out to deliver the best care for patients, with ambulance response times improving last month as the NHS continued to progress on its winter plan."

At Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust:

In January:

  • 77% of arrivals were seen within four hours, against an NHS target of 95%
  • 1,107 patients waited longer than four hours for treatment following a decision to admit – 8% of patients
  • Of those, 645 were delayed by more than 12 hours

Separate NHS Digital data reveals that in December:

  • The median time to treatment was 61 minutes. The median average is used to ensure figures are not skewed by particularly long or short waiting times
  • Around 4% of patients left before being treated