Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Trust missed its NHS A&E waiting time target for January, as the proportion of people waiting for more than four hours has skyrocketed since August.

The NHS sets a target for A&E departments to see 95 per cent of patients within four hours of admittance – but Epsom and St Helier fall below the mark at 92.1 per cent for January.

That amounts to 1,003 people across the two hospitals.

This is a sharp fall from the 97.3 per cent of patients seen within four hours in June – despite a similar number of admittances.

The trust fell below the 95 per cent threshold in September, October, November, December and January.

A spokesman for Keep Our St Helier Hospital (KOSHH) said: “There is a lot of very interesting data contained there.

“I'm particularly concerned by the way in which the number of patients waiting more than four hours from decision to admit to actually being admitted – and waiting for a bed – has increased so much since June.”

However Epsom and St Helier outperformed all but two London NHS trusts in this regard, and within Surrey, only Frimley Heath and Surrey and Sussex had shorter waiting times.

Within London only one trust – Homerton – hit the target of 95 per cent of patients being seen within four hours of admittance.

Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Trust defended its A&E record, pointing to the fact that it has received more patients than is usual over the winter months.

The trust’s chief executive Daniel Elkeles said: “We are one of the best performing trusts in London, and would like to thank our staff for their continued hard work and dedication. “Between March 18 and 21 we saw more than 2,000 patients in A&E.

“It is during exceptionally pressurised times like these when reaching the four hour standard becomes incredibly challenging.”

KOSHH echoed this, saying despite consistently failing to meet the target, the A&E departments remain ‘considerably’ better than the national average.

A KOSHH spokesman said: “This data confirms yet again, our view that we can certainly not afford to lose the beds provided by Epsom and St Helier.

“This would make the performance figures for all of the remaining hospitals in South West London considerably worse than they already are.

“Furthermore, any reduction in bed numbers across the region would further exacerbate the situation.”