Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting BA NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Worcester A&E departments missed treatment targets in August
ALARM bells are sounding at Worcestershire’s A&E departments after important targets for seeing patients within four hours were missed.
Government-imposed targets demand 95 per cent of A&E patients are seen within four hours.
But during August the level achieved at Worcestershire Royal Hospital was only 91 per cent.
Although targets had been met consistently over the summer months, August’s failure during what is traditionally a quiet period has left Worcestershire Acute NHS Hospitals Trust concerned that the situation will only get worse during the busier winter months ahead.
A&E chiefs say the problems are down to higher than expected numbers of patients arriving for emergency treatment, but also an ongoing failure to move patients out of acute hospitals such as Worcestershire Royal once they no longer need to be there.
The missed target came as it was announced Worcestershire was to receive just £1 million to help the struggling department through the difficult winter months.
Chris Tidman, the acute trust’s deputy chief executive, said that during August there were consistently about 80 patients – the equivalent of four full wards – taking up acute beds when they should have returned home or been moved on to nursing homes or community care facilities.
“We achieved our four-hour A&E target in July despite quite a lot of pressure at our front door caused by the hot weather, which was a fantastic achievement,” he said.
“But during August we have found it increasingly difficult to sustain that level of performance and did not hit the 95 per cent, which is a concern, especially heading into winter.
“There is still a significant mismatch between the plans we have been asked to put in place by our commissioners and the number of patients coming in the front door.”
He said that although emergency demand was slightly down on the unprecedented levels of last year, it remains about eight per cent higher than expected in its contracts with commissioners.
Bosses at Worcestershire’s clinical commissioning groups say they are confident that a number of winter schemes will achieve their objective of reducing the number of people needing hospital treatment.
But the acute trust says more must be done to improve flow through the system.
Chief operating officer Stewart Messer said: “Our A&E staff will tell you that it is quite easy to hit the target as long as they have flow.
“We keep talking about this but without really seeing much action.
“We are starting to see some action but it really needs to motor forward over the next few weeks.”
Penny Venables, chief executive of the trust, believes the local health economy is slowly waking up to the problems that bed-blocking can cause.
But she said: “While I think there is more listening going on than this time last year, it still tends to be reactions.
“We are trying to get to a level where actions (to avoid it) are more proactive.”
Comments are closed on this article.