Record number of 12 hour A&E waits for a bed at Weston Hospital

Weston Hospital closed to new patients after a surge in coronavirus infections.

Four and 12 hour trolley waits are at a record-high for Weston General Hospital. - Credit: Archant

More than 2,500 A&E patients were made to wait for 12 hours for a hospital bed in Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (BWNHST) during this year.

A record 594 people were made to wait 12 or more hours for a bed on a hospital ward in October, while 1,941 waited for four hours.

These trolley waits are classified as breaches at the four-hour mark and serious breaches at 12 hours.

Since January, 2,575 patients have been made to wait 12 hours for a bed and 14,777 people have waited for four hours according to NHS England.

The interim medical director at BWNHST admitted to the Mercury that the Covid pandemic has strained both hospitals' services.

Dr Emma Redfern said: "Patient safety is our priority. Like many hospitals across the country, we are under sustained pressure in our emergency departments.

“We always aim to see and treat patients as quickly as possible, and all patients arriving at our emergency departments are triaged and assessed with the most urgent being prioritised.

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"Our ability to admit patients in a timely way is also being impacted by staffing challenges, a rise in the number of Covid-19 patients needing admission, and infection control guidance which means we have separate wards for Covid and non-Covid patients to maintain safety but this reduces the flexible use of our beds."

Weston General Hospital main entrance

The Foundation Trust has invested in a Same Day Emergency Care unit to ease demand. - Credit: Weston Area Health NHS Trust

Efforts are being made to reduce the number of breaches, which rarely occurred before the pandemic.

Dr Redfern added: "The trust has recently invested in a Same Day Emergency Care unit which sees and treats appropriate patients arriving at our emergency departments who may not need to be admitted to hospital,

"This will further reduce the number of patients experiencing longer waits."

Weston General Hospital was rated inadequate in its latest Care Quality Commission inspection.

NHS bosses in the South West recently declared their highest level of alert, Opel 4, with services stretched beyond capability.

Dr Peter Brindle, medical director for the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, told the Mercury that this is currently the most challenging period staff have had to work through.

Dr Brindle said: “Workforce challenges, increased demand, the ongoing impact of Covid-19, and a growing backlog of people waiting for planned care make this the most challenging period we have ever experienced."

For non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses, call 111.

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