'No issue with patient safety' say Dudley NHS trust as investigation launched over A&E waiting times

Hospital bosses in Dudley today insisted: "There is no issue with patient safety" as it emerged it would be investigated over A&E target times.

COPYRIGHT EXPRESS&STAR TIM THURSFIELD 28/02/07Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, which is at the centre of the parking chaos problem. (4407841)
Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, is a Dudley NHS Foundation trust hospital.

NHS watchdog Monitor has announced it will investigate the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust for 'consistently failing' A&E targets and the 'deterioration' of its finances.

The organisation says that the trust has not met the national target of seeing 95 per cent of patients within four hours at A&E in four of the last five financial quarters.

Dudley Group chief executive Paula Clark today said that the trust had met its A&E waiting time targets in the past three weeks.

She added: "The foundation trust regulator Monitor has announced it has opened an investigation into our compliance with our licence.

"We share their concerns around our deteriorating financial performance and the difficulties we have faced to meet the national Accident and Emergency target.

"We welcome Monitor’s support around our action plan to treat, admit or discharge emergency patients within four hours of arrival at A&E, and around our financial plans to bring the books back into balance by 2015/16 and go towards our future financial sustainability.

"However, we would like to reassure patients that Monitor’s concerns are around performance targets and financial position; they are not about patient safety."

Monitor also said it had concerns about the financial performance at the trust, which runs Russells Hall Hospital, and this will also be looked at during the investigation.

Regional director, Adam Cayley, said: “The trust is taking too long to see patients in A&E. We’re also concerned about its financial position. We’re launching an investigation to get to the bottom of these issues and understand whether or not we need to step in.”

No decision has been taken about whether further regulatory action is required at this stage.

It comes after the hospital trust says an increased demand for services, rising pension costs and a recruitment of overseas nurses were among the factors behind the deficit.

Bosses said they were facing a fourth successive freeze in budget funding and were required to make up to £12million in savings a year.

Dudley North MP Ian Austin said: "Local people are facing longer waits at A&E since the Government scrapped A&E targets, and it’s taking longer to get vital cancer tests and treatments too. The Government needs to get a grip and give hospitals the resources they need.”