Sandwell Hospital chiefs plan to tackle A&E waiting times
Sandwell Hospital bosses have drawn up an urgent plan to try and address ‘unacceptable’ A&E waiting times.
Thousands of patients have been left waiting more than four hours at Sandwell General this year and now health chiefs have said that long waits at the emergency department cannot continue.
The trust that runs the hospital has not met the national A&E waiting time target for more than two years. The benchmark, set by the Government, is to have 95 per cent seen within four hours.
But hundreds of patients are still waiting longer than this – even in the summer when pressure on the NHS traditionally eases.
Bosses have now begun drawing up a strategy to try and improve the situation before winter arrives this year.
The need for improvement has become even more pressing with the crisis surrounding the new Midland Metropolitan Hospital, which will not open for at least four years following the collapse of construction giant Carillion.
Trust chiefs are now hoping to ensure patients sent to hospitals by GPs will be treated elsewhere than A&E and to get ‘decision makers’ involved more quickly to shorten patients waits.
A&E performance has been described as ‘unacceptable’ by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust chief executive Toby Lewis in a board report.
He said: “We are working hard to tackle wait times in our EDs (emergency departments). We have proactively sought clinical expert advice from outside the trust, and held a well-attended Listening Into Action event with over 50 A&E staff from across disciplines and grades.”
Mr Lewis said the trust would also be ‘reviewing external referral reliance, which can delay patients for many hours’. New staffing rotas will also be introduced to try and plug ‘gaps’.
One-in-five patients waited longer than four hours in Sandwell in May, the most recent figures available.
The total number kept waiting beyond the target time rose sharply to 3,746 in May from 2,745 the previous month.
Mr Lewis said it was expected the action would deliver improvements in A&E performances by August. The trust had aimed to reach the 95 per cent target set by the Government in March.