October 2, 2008
Hospital Hits A&E Target
By Greg Tindle
A&E doctors at Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales are hitting targets to treat casualty patients within four hours for the first time.
Checks carried out in September showed that the busiest emergency unit in Wales - with 120,000 patients a year - had finally hit the target of tackling the long waits being experienced by up to 1,000 patients every month.
Plans to blitz these long A&E waiting times were recently unveiled by hospital managers following criticism of their performance by the Welsh Assembly Government.
All A&E units in Wales are required to deal with 95% of patients within the four-hour time limit and UHW has the worst record, consistently failing to hit the deadline with a 90% average.
But the good results in the A&E department have been tempered by the hospital admitting they have an increasing number of bed- blockers despite an overall drop in the bed blocking numbers across Welsh hospitals in the past 12 months.
The latest NHS figures show that Wales-wide the number of bed- blockers - officially known as delayed transfers of care - have dropped over the year from 692 to 543.
These are usually elderly patients who have finished their hospital medical treatment and are waiting to be moved to either a residential home or with a social services care package back to their own home.
Despite the drop UHW has seen an increase in these patients, rising by11 over the past month to 131 bed-blockers. The Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust recorded a drop from 102 bed-blockers to 76 in the same period, CwmTaf remained static at 75 and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg sawa cut from 110 to 103.
Simon Jones, chairman of the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, which runs the UHW, said: "The improvement in our A&E waiting times is the result of a lot of hard work and our mission nowis to sustain that level of performance."
Mr Jones said the plan that had been put in place included the appointment of newlocum doctors to decide who required emergency treatment, two newA&E consultants and A&E nurse consultants to be appointed.
Mr Jones said another major plank of the scheme was a review of the times of daily ward rounds by doctors to ensure patients ready for discharge could go home as soon as possible in the day, releasing their bed for another patient.
He added: "Dealing with the delayed transfers of care is still a major concern as this figure is going up and this issue needs to be discussed with the Cardiff Local Health Board and Cardiff council's social services department."
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