NEARLY one-in-four patients turning up for treatment at Accident & Emergency at Worcestershire Royal Hospital waited more than four hours for treatment last month, new figures reveal.
The news comes in the wake of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) failing to hit its waiting time limit for the 11th consecutive month.
The worst breach came in July which saw 1,576 waiting for treatment more than four hours in the Royal’s Emergency Department – the best month was August when ‘only’ 1,251 patients were affected.
In comparison to the Trust’s other hospitals, the A&E department at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch had its worst month in April when 609 patients waited more than four hours, with its best month being July with 311 patients affected.
The figures for Kidderminster Hospital, not a major injuries unit, were even better seeing a 99 per cent to 100 per cent compliance with the Government target.
However, the fear is that with the planned expansion of the Royal’s A&E not due to come on stream until February 2016, winter could add considerably to the delays experienced by patients attending the hospital.
In papers due to go before the Trust’s board today (Wednesday) officers say they are beginning to tackle the problem, citing the use of dedicated nurses working in the A&E corridor helping early handover of patients from ambulance staff.
However it adds that, fundamentally, patient throughput in A&E is being slowed by the continuing problem of high bed occupancy elsewhere in the Trust’s hospitals.
This could well be down to patients fit enough to leave hospital but with no care package or halfway house for them to go to once they leave the premises.
To combat delays in the emergency departments the Trust has reinforced the need for rapid effective discharge, introduced a ‘full capacity’ protocol to spread the issue Trust-wide in a bid to free up beds for A&E patients, and provided extra staff at peak times in the department.
Elsewhere, the Trust again missed its 18 week Referral to Treatment Target, achieving 89.4 per cent against a target of 92 per cent, affecting some 3,008 patients.
However in respect of cancer standards the Trust improved overall although it once again missed the 93 per cent target of seeing urgent cancer referrals within two weeks, performance declining from 83.1 per cent in July to 81.8 per cent in August.