A&E patient waiting times at lowest level since 2016

PUBLISHED: 15:55 22 June 2018

Chief executive James Rimmer.

Chief executive James Rimmer.

Archant

Waiting times at Weston General Hospital’s emergency department are at their lowest level for more than two years.

Patients are being treated quicker than they have since 2016, according to Weston Area Health NHS Trust’s chief executive James Rimmer.

The department remains closed overnight but this summer has seen a reduction in patient waiting times.

The NHS asks all hospital trusts to see 95 per cent of its A&E patients within four hours of arrival.

Weston has often struggled to get close to the target, and last reached it for a whole month in July 2015.

Since then it has consistently fallen short, with as many as one in five patients failing to be seen within four hours back in December.

There have been rare cases where patients have faced huge waits, including on New Year’s Day when an 87-year-old woman had to wait 22 hours for a bed because the hospital faced ‘extreme pressures’.

But an improvement in the weather has coincided with an upturn in fortune for the A&E department.

In May, the hospital met the national target for two consecutive weeks – the first 
time it has managed that since 2016.

Mr Rimmer is pleased with the progress.

He said: “Providing safe and effective high-quality care is extremely important to us and we are working hard to continue the improvements we have made in our four-hour A&E performance standard.

“The end of May and the beginning of June has seen the trust achieving 95 per cent and above in some weeks.”

Reduced opening hours remain however in place at the emergency department, with it still closed from 10pm-8am each day.

It is now almost one year since the ‘temporary’ measure was taken, following a Care Quality Commission inspection which rated A&E services as ‘inadequate’.

While the CQC has since agreed positive steps have been taken by the trust, Mr Rimmer says a return to a 24/7 A&E is not imminent.

He said: “We are also pleased that our commitment to recruitment has resulted in an increased number of doctors, although not yet to a level which would allow us to reopen overnight.”

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