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Hospitals in crisis: Thousands across the region wait more than four hours to be seen at A&E

One in five patients arriving at A&E at hospitals in the Black Country and Staffordshire wait more than four hours to be seen, according to latest figures published this week.

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The Government has a set-target hospital trusts to admit 95 per cent of patients within four hours.

But in the wake of performance figures for each trust, hospitals appear to be moving further away from the target following a month of severe winter pressure.

The worst in the region is University Hospitals of North Midlands, which runs Royal Stoke University Hospital and County Hospital in Stafford.

Out of 19,743 patients arriving at A&E at the trust's two hospitals, just 14,124 were seen within four hours - 71.5 per cent.

This compares to 77.8 per cent in November, and 73.5 per cent in December in 2016.

Hospital trust waiting times in the Black Country and Staffordshire

Dudley Group NHS Trust, which runs Russells Hall Hospital saw 11,414 out of 14,461 patients in four hours - 78.9 per cent. This compares to 83.9 per cent in November, and 90.8 per cent in December 2016.

Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, which runs City Hospital in Birmingham and Sandwell General Hospital, saw 14,047 out of 17,865 patients in four hours - 78.6 per cent. In November it was 82.7 per cent, and December in 2016 81.9 per cent.

At Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Walsall Manor, 7,832 patients, out of 10,123, were seen in four hours - 77.4 per cent, compared to 82 per cent in November and 79 per cent in December 2016.

The best performing was Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross. Out of 19,843 patients at A&E, 17,287 were seen within four hours - 87.1 per cent.

This compared to 87.4 per cent in November and 91.5 per cent in December in 2016.

The region average is 78.7 per cent, while the national average for hospital trusts is 85.1 per cent.

Incredibly busy

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust's chief operating officer, Richard Beeken, said: “During December 2017 there was a substantial increase in the number of A&E admissions at UHNM.

“This increase, along with the acuity of the patients seen and the subsequent length of stay in the hospital for those patients, is having a clear impact on our ability to meet the A&E 4 hour standard along with the high numbers of patients waiting to be discharged, which is a whole system responsibility."

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust's chief operating officers, Gwen Nuttall, said: “Our hospitals, along with others regionally and nationally, have been incredibly busy over the Christmas and new year period this year.

“We strive to provide high quality and safe care for every one of our patients and our hard-working staff go above and beyond to ensure that patient safety is the highest priority.

“Meeting national targets will always be a challenge but we are doing all that we can to ensure our patients are not waiting longer than necessary to receive the care that they need."

A Government department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "We know the NHS is extremely busy, which is why it was given top priority in the recent Budget with an extra £2.8bn allocated over the next two years – and despite the extra pressure that comes with winter, including rising flu levels, hardworking staff treated 55,328 people within four hours every single day in December - 1,272 more each day than in the same month the previous year."