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A&E patients face long delays in Bucks


Published by Mix96 News at 5:53am 19th February 2019. (Updated at 10:53am 19th February 2019)

Figures show more than one in four A&E patients face long delays at Buckinghamshire Healthcare trust.

More than one in four A&E patients at Buckinghamshire Healthcare trust waited four hours or longer to be admitted, transferred or discharged in January, figures show.

These figures formed part of the worst A&E waiting times across England since records began, despite lower levels of flu and norovirus than last year.

NHS leaders said the figures show the “true scale of this crisis facing our systems”.

At Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust in January there were 6,612 emergency attendances.

Of those, 1,696 patients waited more than four hours to be admitted, transferred or discharged.

The NHS’s target is for 95% of patients to be dealt with in four hours, at Buckinghamshire Healthcare trust, it was 87.5%.

This was better than January 2018, when 85.5% of patients were seen within four hours.

Across England, the number of patients waiting more than four hours was more than 320,000 in January 2019, with just 84% being treated, admitted or discharged within the target time. This is the worst performance since comparable records began.

The last time trusts across the England hit the 95% target was July 2015.

Royal College of Emergency Medicine president, Dr Taj Hassan, said:

"Sadly the situation afflicting our emergency departments has become seemingly normalised with a 'chronic crisis mode' that does not allow staff to deliver the quality of care they would wish and patients should rightly expect.

"The evidence on resultant crowding in departments is clear - it adds to the risk of harm to patients leading to excess deaths and disability.

"These figures make clear the true scale of this crisis facing our systems."

An NHS England spokesman said emergency departments had faced "real pressure, particularly over the past few weeks".

He added: 

"The health service has seen improved performance since the start of December compared to last winter, with thousands more people successfully treated in A&E within four hours than last year.”

Health think tank the Nuffield Trust's chief economist, Professor John Appleby, said the figures show "the NHS is fighting a losing battle in trying to meet its commitments to provide timely healthcare".

"There is a risk that we lose sight of these problems as Brexit distracts us, or become numbed as we forget the last time targets were met," he said

"But this situation has a serious impact on hundreds of thousands of patients, and will be demoralising for many staff."

NHS England is considering scrapping the 95% four hour A&E waiting time target, to give serious injuries and illnesses more priority.

Response from Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Natalie Fox, Chief Operating Officer said:

“All NHS Trusts across the country have been extremely busy over the last month. Although there have been fewer cases nationally, Norovirus has been circulating in Buckinghamshire communities.

"In January 2019 Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust also saw nearly 1706 more emergency attendances compared to January of last year.

"Despite this increase our A&E is performing well, ranking in the top 30 nationally and has improved on last year with 87.5% of patients being seen within the 4-hour target, compared to 85.5% during January 2017/18.

“As a Trust we anticipated these high levels of demand over winter and have been working with our system partners on measures to deal with the increased pressures, such as seeing and treating patients in alternative settings away from the Emergency Department when clinically appropriate. 

"This included re-aligning the workforce to support our frontline staff. We also designated more beds for medical patients, which we knew there would be a greater demand for over winter.

“As a system we have been providing more care and a variety of care options in the community, such as additional support for patients in their own homes and additional care home beds.

"Our priority is to ensure all patients receive the right care in the right place and are not delayed unnecessarily in hospital.

"We would remind the public that there are a number of alternative options available to them if their case is not an emergency. These include calling 111 and visiting the Urgent Treatment Centre at Wycombe Hospital.”

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