Crowded A&E to blame for health trust missing its target

Ambulances outside Accident and Emergency (A&E), Wigan hospital
Ambulances outside Accident and Emergency (A&E), Wigan hospital

WIGAN’S Accident and Emergency department has missed its waiting time target for the first quarter of this year, official figures reveal.

The statistics show just how much pressure the department has been put under of late after having had one of the best records in the region in recent years for treating 95 per cent of patients within the Government’s four-hour waiting time target.

Figures for the first three months of this year (2014/15) show that Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust only managed to see 93.3 per cent of the 22,954 patients who attended Wigan Infirmary’s A&E department between April 1 and June 30.

Hospital bosses say the unprecedented number of people visiting casualty since the start of 2014 is to blame for the target being missed.

Director of operations Fiona Noden said: “A&E has been extremely busy over the last few months. This can have an impact on the other services we provide and I am appealing to the public for their understanding as we are doing everything we can to alleviate the situation.

“Everyone will benefit if we can give urgent and emergency care to the people most in need. We are therefore appealing to the public to think twice and make sure they choose the right service for minor illnesses, ailments and injuries. The public should only attend A&E if they have a serious health condition or in a genuine emergency.

“I would like to pay tribute to all our staff who are working in such a challenging and demanding environment. Despite working under significant pressure they are at all times putting the needs of our patients first.”

The news comes after it was revealed that nationally, the last time all 144 trusts with major units met the four-hour standard over a seven-day period was in the week ending July 14 2013.

The number of A&E visits has been rising for a number of years. There were over 14.2m attendances last year - up 1.4 per cent in two years. But a bigger proportional rise has been seen in the number of these visits that end up with people being admitted into hospital. These tend to be the most complex cases that take the most time to deal with.

Of the 14.2m visits last year, just under 3.8m ended up with an admission into the hospital. That is 5.7 per cent higher than two years previously.

Dr Cliff Mann, of the College of Emergency Medicine, said: “A lot of this is related to the ageing population and while the percentage rise may seem small we are still talking about a lot of people.

“We have a drastic shortage of doctors and that is hampering out ability to cope with rises in demand.”