Latest figures show waiting times going up at QA hospital

Paige Howitt

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WAITING times for A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital are getting worse.

But the man in charge at the department says progress is being made.

Latest figures published by NHS England show Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Cosham hospital, saw, treated or discharged 77 per cent of A&E patients within four hours during July. This is a drop from 82 per cent in June.

The target is for hospitals to achieve this 95 per cent of the time – a marker PHT has missed for the past two years.

Simon Hunter, chief of service for the department, said: ‘We have been fluctuating up and down for a while now. But we have made improvements and we’re turning a corner now.

‘There have been some big changes to our waiting time figures in the past six weeks.

‘In September we have seen a run of days where we are achieving 91.5 per cent, so that is much better.

‘We’re also seeing some days at 95 per cent, but we know we need consistency on this.’

Mr Hunter said changes made include having more senior doctors in A&E who can make quick decisions and GPs close-by who treat patients who need non-emergency care. Also, ambulances are not having to wait as long at the department before they can drop off a patient and leave.

Mr Hunter said more work needs to be done to speed up discharging patients.

He added: ‘A lot of our attendees at A&E are aged 75 and over.

‘They have a lot of complex medical needs and discharging them can take a while.

‘Around 35 per cent of patients are admitted, but we need to have beds to put them in.

‘We see most patients within an hour of them arriving to A&E, but the target is for patients to be seen and treated or discharged within four hours.’

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said the trust must show steady improvement.

She said: ‘MPs across the region continue to monitor this and we must give healthcare professionals the support they need as well as the challenge to improve this area of care.’

And the head of the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, which pays for health services in the area, said there are encouraging signs.

Dr Jim Hogan said: ‘A huge number of NHS staff from across the health service are working hard to reduce the waiting times for urgent and emergency care, and in recent months there have been encouraging signs that those efforts are beginning to have an effect.’