August 18, 2008

Pressure Eases on County’s a&E Departments

By Phil Skelton

Pressure is beginning to ease on Cheltenham and Gloucester's accident and emergency departments.

A report released by the Department of Health shows that more people are being seen within four hours at Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals.

In the last three months 95.6% of people were seen within the time period, which is up from 94.7% between January and March.

Despite the progress, the hospitals are still falling short of the Government's target of 98% of patients spending four hours or less from arrival at A&E to admission, transfer or discharge.

Hospital chiefs say admissions by GPs and the ambulance service have risen by four per cent in the past year, and that more people are visiting accident and emergency departments with minor ailments.

This has led to waiting times rising.

But Government figures show that 25,618 people attended A&E departments in the county in the last three months, which is down from 26,164 in the same period last year. Between April and June 2006, 36,112 people came through the doors in need of treatment.

The report also shows that high numbers of patients are having to wait more than two hours to be transferred from A&E to wards.

During the past three months, 5,083 were admitted to wards through the emergency departments, and of those, 68 per cent were taken to a ward within two hours.

This is down from 78% during the same period last year.

Coun Andrew Gravells (C, Abbey), chairman of Gloucestershire's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: "The downward trend is good news, and one that HOSC welcomes.

"We will continue to watch them, to ensure that the improvements are built on."

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Ensuring patients are seen and treated, admitted or discharged as quickly as possible has been a key priority for the Trust.

"The figures reflect a challenging quarter, and significant improvements have been achieved since this time.

"Working alongside the Health Community we have been above the target levels week on week, demonstrating that patients can have confidence that they will be seen quickly and efficiently."

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