THE NUMBER of A&E patients being treated within four hours at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital has hit a new low.
Just over 69 per cent of patients were admitted or discharged within the specified time during February at the Worcester site against a target of 95 per cent. It means the last time the Worcestershire Royal (WRH) hit the A&E waiting time target was in July 2013.
In contrast the Alexandra Hospital saw just under 84 per cent of patients within four hours
during last month.
The number of patients having to wait more than four hours has rocketed at WRH by over 68 per cent between April last year and this February from 5,462 to 9,190. The Alex has seen a smaller increase of about 23 per cent from 2,584 to 3,172 over the same period.
Bosses at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust insist a combination of increasingly elderly, frail patients with complex conditions turning up at their door, combined with delays moving people out of hospital when they no longer need treatment, is affecting performance.
So far this financial year an extra 2,399 people have turned up at the Alex and an additional 4,914 at WRH compared with 2013 – up just over five per cent and almost nine per cent respectively.
An additional 544 people have also been admitted through A&E at the Alex – up just under four per cent – and an extra 958 at the WRH, up just under six per cent. Commissioners had pledged admissions would be cut by 7.5 per cent this year.
A spokeswoman for the Trust admitted their four hour emergency access target was ‘not where we would wish it to be at this moment’ which was due to a number of factors. They also recognised the A&E department at Worcester was not big enough to cope with current demand.
“This year we are expecting to treat more than double the number of patients in the department than it was originally designed to cope with.” she added.
“The entire health and social care community in the county is working together to resolve some of these issues, and a number of initiatives are already in place as part of the
Worcestershire Urgent Care Strategy to both reduce demand and improve patient flow. For example, A&E clinical staff work with primary care clinical staff and GPs on a daily basis within the emergency department.
“Longer term, the Trust is looking at how we can enlarge the A&E department at Worcester to cope with the additional demand.
“Whilst the time from arrival in A&E to admission or discharge is an important part of the quality experience for our patients, our main focus particularly during this time remains on ensuring all of our patients receive safe care.”