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A&E waiting times at N&N slashed

PUBLISHED: 10:22 14 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:40 03 July 2010

Delays at A&E at Norfolk's biggest hospital have been slashed following a project to reduce waiting times.

Last month it was reported that the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was set to miss the important national target for a maximum four-hour wait in A&E.

Delays at A&E at Norfolk's biggest hospital have been slashed following a project to reduce waiting times.

Last month it was reported that the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was set to miss the important national target for a maximum four-hour wait in A&E.

Now a project has been put in place by the N&N and NHS Norfolk, with involvement from social services, to reduce delays. Early figures suggest that it is already working well.

After a winter which was busier than last year, demand on the N&N has not eased. In the week up to March 24 there were 927 emergency admissions - the highest number since January 2004. The total number of admissions was 1,283 - the second highest ever, and the number of people turning up at A&E was 1,604, the third highest ever. Even in April, last weekend saw one of the N&N's busiest ever days in A&E.

Steve Davies, interim performance director of NHS Norfolk, said: “We haven't come out of winter [in terms of demand]. We are working to understand what is going on.”

Measures taken include enabling extra support for A&E by calling on specialist doctors. A member of staff is now responsible for monitoring waiting times in A&E, 24 hours a day.

Previously, a case would be “escalated” by being drawn to the attention of a senior member of staff after two hours. But now the process starts at an hour, steps up after two hours and is looked at by the medical director if someone is still waiting after two-and-a-half hours.

More diagnostic capacity is being put in place, including extra CT scanners and use of private sector CT scans, and extra ultrasounds carried out at weekends.

The effect has been much shorter waiting times. During late February and early March between 48 and 134 people a-week had to wait longer than four hours in A&E.

But new measures were introduced on March 11, and in the two weeks after that just three to four patients a week were waiting longer than four hours. The number of patients waiting more than four hours dropped from 6.4pc in the week ending February 15 to just 0.3pc in the week ending March 22, which is within the national target.

In the week ending February 15 they were waiting more than five hours at the busiest times. But in the week ending March 22, the average wait was three-and-a-half hours at the same time. This was partly because more discharges over the weekend meant that beds were available.

N&N spokesman Andrew Stronach said: “Performance in A&E is hugely better. We have redesigned some of the ways we do things, involving more senior staff in A&E. If they need a particular specialist to see someone then they can call on them more easily.”


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