Worries over A&E left in ‘critical’ state

PUBLISHED: 18:49 09 July 2015 | UPDATED: 18:50 09 July 2015

Weston Hospital.

Weston Hospital.

Archant

‘THE worst in a decade’ is how the man in charge of North Somerset’s urgent care has described last year’s A&E crisis, with the system left in a ‘critical condition’.

Dr Kevin Haggarty, lead for urgent care with the district’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), told its annual stakeholder conference he was ‘extremely worried’ about the service, and called on members of the public to help avoid a repeat performance.

In the last two weeks of December, barely 90 per cent of patients visiting A&E in Weston were either discharged or admitted inside four hours – the NHS target is 95 per cent.

This led hospital bosses to urge people to avoid the department unless ‘absolutely necessary’.

Dr Haggarty told the conference: “The crisis was the worst in 10 years and we are in a critical condition.

“I’m extremely worried about urgent care and we have seen a deterioration in the last five years.

“The system is creating more demand as it falls down; ambulances can’t unload their patients so they can’t pick up new ones, exacerbating the problem.

“About 20 per cent of emergency admissions are unnecessary. For the low-risk patients, it is better to be treated outside of hospital as much as possible.”

Following a more widespread national problem in recent years, NHS England commissioned a review into improving waiting times and reducing overcrowding. The findings were ‘no surprise’ to the CCG, Dr Haggarty told the Mercury.

He said: “There is a lot people can do and none of this is new to us. It is in terms of thinking about exercise, smoking, drinking and making the right decisions.

“Most people would know if they had a life-threatening issue, and if they don’t, maybe they should be accessing care outside of the hospital. People might be better off visiting their pharmacist, for instance.

“Obviously trauma injuries and breaks need to be at A&E, but we serve more than 200,000 people and if people make small changes it will address the issue.”

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