The number of patients forced to wait hours for treatment has shot up at many West Midlands hospitals, official figures have revealed.
Labour urged the Government to “get a grip” on chaos in the health service as it emerged hundreds of patients had been forced to wait more than four hours.
But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt claimed the delays were a result of increasing demand for hospital services caused partly by changes to GP contracts agreed by the last government – which allowed GPs to opt out of evening and weekend work.
At least 98 per cent of patients attending an accident and emergency (A&E) department should be seen, treated, admitted or discharged in under four hours, the official target states.
But latest NHS data shows the target was missed across the region.
The figures were compiled in the week ending April 7 and cover a seven-day period.
At University Hospitals Coventry And Warwickshire NHS Trust, 188 patients had to wait more than four hours – more than one in five.
This is almost three times the figure for the same period in 2012, when 64 patients had to wait more than four hours.
At George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Nuneaton, 89 patients had to wait more than four hours, 15 per cent of the total number of patients, up from 13 patients the year previously.
At Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, 188 patients had to wait more than four hours, 21 per cent up from 665 the year previously.
At hospitals run by Heart Of England NHS Foundation Trust, which include Solihull, Heartlands and Good Hope hospitals, 231 patients had to wait more than four hours, 15 per cent, up from just 23 in 2012.
At Sandwell And West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich and City Hospital in Birmingham, 57 patients waited more than four hours, nine per cent of the total, up from eight in 2012.
At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, run by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, 58 patients waited more than four hours, 12 per cent of the total, up from nine in 2012.
And at Walsall Manor hospital, 12 patients, or four per cent of the total, waited more than four hours, up from four patients in the same period last year.
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “We have repeatedly warned Jeremy Hunt about the intense pressures on A&E and urged him to get a grip. His failure to face up to this problem cannot continue.”
Speaking on behalf of the four Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) covering Birmingham and Solihull, Dr Gavin Ralston, Chair of Birmingham CrossCity CCG, said: “People in Birmingham and Solihull have a wide variety of health services to choose from.
"However, having all these different options can at times be confusing, as people occasionally don’t always know which service to use. This can mean that sometimes patients attend A&E when they could have been treated more effectively elsewhere.
“We are leading an urgent care review across Birmingham and Solihull, with the aim of providing local people with an even more integrated urgent and emergency care service for the future.”
The group had set up “acute medical clinics” at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Heartlands and Good Hope, where patients could receive immediate treatment, he said.
It meant 80 per cent of patients seen could be diagnosed and treated without a hospital stay.
Dr Amrik Gill, Chair of Walsall CCG, said: “Winter 2012/13 has seen unprecedented numbers of admissions at Walsall Manor Hospital, both due to a longer winter period and more patients attending at A&E who are extremely poorly.
“This is not just a local issue but a national issue regarding the increase in people using A&E, as well as increased numbers of people requiring to be admitted.”
Dr Sirjit Bath, Clinical Lead for Urgent Care, Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, added: “We have commissioned GP units in the emergency departments at both Sandwell and City hospitals, running from 9am until midnight every day.
"A GP and a senior nurse assess and treat patients. They are currently seeing about 50 patients per day on each site.”