There’s still a long way to go to reduce A&E waiting times

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We’ve already expressed our concern at how long patients have had to wait in A&E at the Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Back in February only 76 per cent of people were being seen, treated or discharged within four hours.

That meant almost one in four were waiting even more than that. That’s a long time to be staring at the wall, especially if you are in pain or discomfort.

Waiting times at the Cosham hospital over the winter were among the worst in the south, way off the national target of 95 per cent.

Add in a big rise in the cancellation of operations and it painted an alarming picture of a hospital struggling to cope with demand.

We urged hospital bosses to come up with a plan to tackle the problem rather than just blaming the situation on resource shortfalls or an influx of people requiring treatment.

So it is encouraging to report today that in March the figure went up to 88 per cent, a clear sign that the problem had been recognised and efforts were being made to cut back on A&E waiting times.

Initiatives have been brought in to help ease the pressure, including having GPs based in A&E to treat patients who don’t actually need to be there.

Meanwhile out in the community NHS teams have been working to stop people being sent to QA unnecessarily and there has been promotion of drop-in treatment centres.

It’s been a big effort and staff should be praised for achieving change within what can be an unwieldy and many-tentacled NHS machine.

But the fact remains that the QA has not seen 95 per cent of A&E patients within four hours since October 2013.

Meanwhile the latest statistics show that this month the figure has varied from 81.5 per cent to 74.9 per cent.

That’s even worse than the February figure that prompted a review of the whole emergency care system.

Some progress may have been made, but there is clearly some way still to go.

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