QA criticised over waiting times rise in A&E department

MUST DO BETTER Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham
MUST DO BETTER Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham

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THE number of patients left waiting for more than four hours in A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital has increased.

Figures from NHS England show that on average last month, 85 per cent of those attending the emergency department at the hospital in Cosham were either admitted, transferred or discharged within the government guideline time of four hours.

That figure was six per cent less than QA’s average in September 2012 – and 10 per cent less than the national benchmark.

The Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) pays for health services in the area.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, gets most of the £129m that the CCG spends on acute care.

Innes Richens is chief operating officer for the CCG and said the figures on QA are ‘unacceptable’.

He said: ‘We do not think these figures are acceptable, and it is not acceptable for patients to be waiting.

‘That’s why we have levers to change things.’

As reported, the CCG is hoping to bring doctors into A&E to see if that will alleviate pressure on the department.

‘We’re looking at ways to commission a different service, if it will help,’ added Mr Richens.

‘One thing we are trying to do is put GPs in A&E to bring in primary care.

‘The hospital trust also needs to look at how patients are flowing through – making sure beds are ready, clinicians are available – to help patients.

‘And the trust needs to make sure patients are discharged quicker.

‘That’s something we need to look at with social services and with community health providers.’

If a hospital trust does not meet national guidelines, then it could lose money.

Mr Richens added: ‘There are targets in contracts that have money attached to them, that if they achieve, they get.

‘In this case, the trust is not reaching the 95 per cent benchmark set, so we can penalise and withhold money.

‘Because they have not met this, the trust is required to submit a plan about how they will get back on track.

‘And if they display this plan, they get the money back.

‘We will always return the money to them, but we can’t commission something that doesn’t appear to be working.

‘And we’re looking at the whole health system, not just PHT.

‘We need the hospital to succeed, so we hold them to account, but we do that so it succeeds.’

Last month, the Department of Health said it would give 53 hospital trusts in the country a slice of £250m to help with winter pressures.

QA is set to get £1.4m of that cash.

Syd Rapson, chairman of the board of governors for PHT, said: The strain is beginning to show at the hospital and that’s worrying.

‘Looking at these figures, we need to be looking clearly at what to do.

‘The pressure on QA must be looked at.

‘Even though we’re supposed to be getting extra money from the government, it’s rarely extra because it comes from the same pot.

‘I’m very concerned if our standards are dropping, as they appear to be doing.

‘I will be raising this matter at our next meeting.’

No-one from PHT was available for comment on the latest figures.

KEY: First column = Week ending date; second column = number of attendances to A&E; third column = percentage seen in four hours or less (% seen after more than four hours); fifth column = national average for percentage seen within four hours

22-09-13 1,983 84.9 (15.1) 92.9

15-09-13 1,851 86.9 (13.1) 94.9

08-09-13 1,866 83.4 (16.6) 93.9

01-09-13 2,055 83.6 (16.4) 93.8

25-08-13 1,939 81.4 (18.6) 94.2

18-08-13 1,787 91.3 (8.7) 94.3

11-08-13 2,008 86.7 (13.3) 96.4

04-08-13 2,008 81.8 (18.2) 94.9

23-09-12 1,994 93.1 (6.9) 94.2

16-09-12 1,936 94.9 (5.1) 95.0

09-09-12 1,997 84.6 (15.4) 95.4

02-09-12 1,987 92.7 (7.3) 96.2

26-08-12 1,918 92.1 (7.9) 95.5

19-08-12 1,956 95.1 (4.9) 94.6

12-08-12 1,936 98.1 (1.9) 95.8

05-08-12 1,886 97.2 (2.8) 95.8