Peterborough City Hospital missing A&E waiting time target as winter pressures intensify

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Hundreds more patients are attending Peterborough City Hospital's Emergency Department this winter with the national target for waiting times being comfortably missed.

The hospital in Bretton has implemented a “robust” winter plan after an “unprecedented strain” last year saw patients waiting for hours in ambulances and some moved into makeshift wards.

But despite an improved performance the percentage of patients being treated, admitted, transferred or discharged in A&E in four hours has only risen from 65 per cent in December 2017 to 71.19 per cent in December 2018.

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Looking over a wider period, the percentage has risen from 70.86 per cent between October and December 2017 and 79.86 per cent between October and December 2018.

Peterborough City Hospital EMN-141118-141246009Peterborough City Hospital EMN-141118-141246009
Peterborough City Hospital EMN-141118-141246009

Simon Evans, interim chief operating officer for the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which manages the city hospital, said: “Winter brings increased pressures to the hospital. In the last three months of 2018 we have seen a spike in attendances to our Emergency Department compared to the previous year - this is largely due to our ageing population.

“We are seeing a rise in the acuity of patients meaning they are much sicker.  

“To help cope with the pressures we have implemented a robust winter plan. This includes increasing staffing levels where appropriate, working with our colleagues in community healthcare to ensure we can discharge patients safely and efficiently, and to encourage the general public to be mindful of their treatment options so we don’t have an influx of emergency department admissions if care for minor injuries or ailments can be sought elsewhere.

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“We have increased the bed base at Peterborough City and Hinchingbrooke hospitals so we can cope better with demand for inpatient admissions. We are seeing a positive impact as a result - our four-hour Emergency Department performance had improved on the previous year.”

Figures released by the trust reveal that the number of patients attending the Emergency Department in December 2017 were 8,632, compared to 8,195 a year before.

Sandie Smith, CEO of Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “It is very encouraging to see that people are not having such long waits for A&E at Peterborough City Hospital, especially when we can clearly see that there are ever increasing numbers of people using the service.

“We know that the trust is doing a lot to improve ways of working, including how people are discharged from hospital. It is pleasing to see that these are helping relieve pressures.

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“Healthwatch is very hopeful that these improvements will continue and would like to thank the hospital and all the organisations involved.”

Figures from the region’s ambulance service show a slight improvement in the number of hours lost from handing over patients at the city hospital.

The East of England Ambulance Service lost more than 760 hours in December 2018, compared to more than 800 hours in December 2017.

In November 2018 the number of hours lost was just under 500.