MPs meet bosses at QA in a bid to tackle problems

MPs have held crisis talks with bosses at Queen Alexandra Hospital in a bid to crack the problems in the accident and emergency department.

Queen Alexandra Hospital
Queen Alexandra Hospital

The MPs – Penny Mordaunt and Flick Drummond from Portsmouth, Suella Fernandes from Fareham and Caroline Dinenage from Gosport – met interim chief executive Tim Powell from Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust over the pressure faced by A&E at the Cosham site.

It comes as fears have been raised over how the hospital will cope in future after thousands of new homes are built across the hospital’s catchment area. Although the MPs are yet to reveal was what discussed, an announcement is expected soon.

The hospital was placed on black alert last week and saw ambulances queueing outside the A&E department on Monday.

A spokesman from South Central Ambulance Service said one patient was waiting up to seven hours in an ambulance. And there were more problems yesterday.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘I have proposed a solution which has received a positive response from both the Department of Health and QA.

‘As well as dealing with the Care Quality Commission’s requirements, QA and social care need a better way of planning and ensuring support on leaving hospital is in place. This system is aimed at doing that.’

Ms Dinenage said her concerns were over winter and the increase in numbers at A&E.

‘I’m concerned that the cold winter months ahead will see a further influx of patients and I’m seeking reassurance that QA will be able to cope with this increased demand,’ she said.

Miss Fernandes added: ‘Having ambulances queuing, waiting to hand over patients who require emergency treatment, is very concerning and damages public confidence.

‘I visited QA on Saturday and I have spent time with the ambulance service so I am aware of the kinds of pressures A&E is under. I know PHT has attempted to put in place measures to improve the system of processing and treating patients and there have been some improvements in waiting times.

‘But it is clear that much more needs to be done.

‘What is concerning is that A&E departments tend to face considerable challenges during the winter months, with spikes in patients requiring urgent and emergency treatment.

‘I hope the trust makes the vital improvements now to ensure patient safety so during peak months we do not see similar issues which put patients in harm’s way.’

For Mrs Drummond it is important that patients only go to the emergency department when they need to.

She said: ‘Although we do see an increase in vulnerable people needing hospital treatment as we move into winter, it’s important that people do what they can to help by only going to the emergency department when they really need to.’

The pressures of QA are concerning people living in Portsmouth.

Jennie Pope, who lives in Hilsea, wants to start a petition to make the government aware of the ongoing problems at QA.

She said: ‘Our hospital is in a sorry state. Ambulances are frequently diverted and people are having to wait in them at A&E.

‘The hospital just cannot cope. A lot of blame goes on the hospitals that have closed like Royal Hospital Haslar and the number of houses that are being built.

‘We simply cannot cope with the volume of people.’

‘I want to bring a petition to the government and the Department of Health so they can see what is happening.

‘It would be good to get support from MPs and councillors in setting up a petition because I do think it needs some weight behind it.’

Ms Pope said that ideally, she would like to petition to see The Royal Hospital Haslar, in Gosport, reopened with an emergency department.

It was closed in 2009 and plans are in place for it be redeveloped into a mixed site.

But she said the chance of that happening was slim.

‘It is crucial that we have an A&E department in most areas,’ she said.

‘Gosport is a long way from QA and a hospital in the Fareham and Gosport area would probably help a lot.

‘I cannot see Haslar opening but if it could, that would be the first step to easing pressure at QA.

‘It never should have been closed in the first place.’

A number of plans are in place to see more houses built in the QA Hospital catchment area.

In the north of Fareham, the 6,000-home new town of Welborne is being built while 5,000 houses are planned across the borough of Havant.

Havant councillor Gwen Blackett, who is a member of the Portsmouth health overview and scrutiny panel (Hosp), said QA needs more funding if it is going to cope with more people.

‘I hope QA will get all the funding it needs with all the houses that are due to be built around here,’ Cllr Blackett said.

‘There are developments that will create a lot of people and a vast number of them will be living right on top of the hospital.’

She added: ‘What is happening at the moment is not QA’s fault if they don’t have the funding to help with the pressure placed on them.’