Extra staff called in to ease pressure on A&E
Busiest week of year prompts emergency measures
EXTRA staff have been brought in to work at Hillingdon Hospital for what is expected to be the A&E’s busiest week of the year.
Eight junior doctors were drafted in to work at the hospital in Pield Heath Road for three months from Monday, January 12, in an effort to ease pressure on the unit.
Other measures being taken will include opening a discharge lounge where A&E patients waiting to be picked up will be able to wait, freeing up beds.
And this week every A&E ward at the hospital will be appointed at least one ward liaison officer to act as a runner for doctors. These roles will be filled by staff already working elsewhere in the hospital.
Some of the pressure will also be eased by the hospital’s new 46-bed Acute Medical Unit, which opened last month.
The second week of January is known to be the busiest week of the year for A&Es across the UK.
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Figures released by NHS England last week showed that A&Es across the country failed to meet the government’s target of seeing 95 per cent of patients within four hours in the last quarter.
At the Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs both Hillingdon Hospital and Mount Vernon Hospital, in Rickmansworth Road, Northwood, only 92.5 per cent of all A&E patients were admitted, transferred or discharged within that time period between October and December last year.
But Mark Edwards, clinical director of medicine at the hospital’s A&E, said he was confident the unit would not have to declare a ‘major incident’, as several others in England have done recently.
He said: “We won’t go the way of other hospitals and announce a major incident, but I can’t say with hand on heart that we won’t breach that four-hour target, because hospitals across the country are breaching it.”
He added: “I would apologise if people have to wait longer than they think they ought to, but unfortunately that the nature of the beast.”
Staff at the hospital are appealing for patients to only use A&E when necessary. They say many come through their doors with problems that should instead have been directed towards their local GPs.
Addressing the missed target for A&E waiting times, a trust spokesman said: “A&E is meant to be for people with life threatening injuries, but many are using it for minor complaints.
“It’s a public service and the public has to be more responsible about its use. There are suitable alternatives closer to home in many cases, including GP surgeries, pharmacies, the Urgent Care Centre and minor injuries unit at Mount Vernon.
“It presents everyone with a big challenge and we are doing all we can to safely speed-up discharge times at the trust.”
n CHALLENGE: Mark Edwards, clinical director of medicine at Hillingdon Hospital’s A&E Contributed