Health bosses disagree over how to solve capacity issues at Queen Alexandra Hospital after 10,000 extra patients admitted last year

HEALTH bosses have disagreed over the best way to sort capacity issues at the city’s hospital as figures show more than 10,000 extra patients were admitted last year.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Mark Cubbon told a board of directors at South Central Ambulance Service that ‘30 additional beds were needed in the community’ to help patients get discharged quicker and relieve pressure on Queen Alexandra Hospital.

But non-executive director at Scas, Anne Stebbing said ‘she would personally be very surprised if only 30 additional beds in the community would help solve the capacity problems that were currently being experienced’.

There have been issues of more than a dozen ambulances queued outside the emergency department at the hospital in Cosham and Scas has said that the hospital’s capacity issues affect its response times.

Over a dozen ambulance vehicles parked at A&E entrance at QA hospital, Portsmouth in 2018 Picture : Habibur Rahman

A Scas spokesman said: ‘When the hospital – and A&E – are busy, then this can lead to delays in our staff handing over the patients that arrive by ambulance at the QA.

‘This impacts SCAS by reducing the number of planned vehicles and staff we have available (as some are delayed at the QA) and the greatest impact this has on our service is that we might therefore be unable to respond to those patients triaged as having urgent or less urgent illnesses/injuries (our Category 3 and Category 4 calls that we aim to get to within two or three hours) as quickly as we normally would.’

It comes as figures show that almost 200 extra patients were admitted to the hospital every week last year compared to five years ago.

NHS Digital data shows 144,860 patients were admitted to hospital at the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust in 2018-19 which is 10,310 more than during 2014-15.

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South Central Ambulance Service response times suffer after extra 200 incidents ...

The report also revealed that a capacity review had been carried out at QA but this had concluded that there was no further scope for additional beds in the existing hospital site.

When questioned asked whether the £58m investment in the emergency department of the Cosham hospital would include the provision of more beds, Mr Cubbon replied that the trust ‘was trying hard not to provide additional hospital beds as this was not seen as the right solution’.

He also highlighted that around 10 per cent of beds at QA were occupied by patients who could have been discharged.

Figures for last week show that the hospital was 92 per cent full every day between January 6 and January 12 – above 92 per cent, NHS Improvement says that deterioration in A&E performance begins to accelerate.

The trust is taking part in an A&E target time pilot so the latest figures on waiting times are not available but Mr Cubbon previously told The News that ‘the pilot was going well’.

In a bid to relieve pressure, more than £8.5m has been invested across the health and care system over this financial year in Portsmouth and south east Hampshire to create more capacity outside of the hospital.

Nigel Kee, chief operating officer at PHT, said: ‘We continue to work closely with all of our partners to improve flow throughout the health and care system and avoid delays at the hospital. To support this, approximately £8.5m is being invested across the local health and care system this financial year in services outside of hospital to support the smooth transition of patients awaiting ongoing care.

‘This investment is creating more capacity for social care assessment, the ability to support people in their own homes and to create more capacity in community and nursing homes.’