Hospitals fail to meet waiting times in A&E

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Hundreds of patients have been stuck for hours on trolleys waiting for hospital beds after NHS staff battled ‘unprecedented’ demand on A&E services.

Rising numbers of patients have faced delays in A&E at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals.

concerns: Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin.

concerns: Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin.

Government targets say 95 per cent of patients should be seen in A&E within four hours of arrival and either treated, admitted or discharged.

But Mid Yorkshire only managed 77.7 per cent in November, according to figures released yesterday.

In the same month, patients waited more than four hours in A&E to be admitted to hospital on more than 1,800 occasions.

Bosses at the trust said demand on A&E had eased slightly in the last few days, but continued to appeal to people only to go to A&E in an emergency.

Last week it emerged that managers were drafted in to look after patients on wards at Mid Yorkshire, which is among NHS trusts hit by government budget cuts, staffing problems and a surge in winter A&E attendances.

Dr Sarah Robertshaw, head of clinical service for emergency medicine, said: “Although our A&E departments continue to be busy we have seen a slight reduction in the unprecedented demand we have been experiencing.

“We are grateful to the public for exploring the alternative options to A&E, such as NHS 111, pharmacies, GPs and the walk-in centres and would urge them to continue to do so for anything that isn’t a real emergency.”

The government has been criticised for not providing sufficient funds or doing enough to tackle staffing shortages in the NHS to avert a winter crisis.

In parliament on Monday, Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin told health secretary Jeremy Hunt of chaotic scenes reported to her at Dewsbury A&E.

She said: “I appreciate that Jeremy Hunt took my concerns seriously but he now must look at how his disastrous decisions are affecting patient care and move quickly to rectify them.”

Safety fears were also raised about plans to downgrade Dewsbury’s A&E department to an urgent care centre and centralise emergency care at Pinderfields.

In Prime Ministers’ Questions on Wednesday, Ms Brabin told Theresa May: “Over Christmas, I had constituents who were waiting 20 hours for a bed in a facility that might not even exist next year. Will the Prime Minister please face reality and act now to stop this vital A&E service from disappearing?”

National figures show 88.4 per cent of A&E patients were seen within four hours in November, against the 95 per cent target.

A shortage of social care beds led to a 42 per cent increase in delays getting patients discharged form wards, causing hold-ups in A&E among those waiting for beds.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said: “I’m deeply concerned by the latest figures showing Pinderfields Hospital is dealing with just 77.7 per cent of their patients within four hours.”