Thousands wait over an hour to be seen at A&E
21% ARRIVING AT INFIRMARY TREATED WITHIN TARGET TIME
THOUSANDS of patients arriving at hospital by ambulance are waiting more than an hour before being seen by A&E staff despite a target of 15 minutes, latest figures show.
A report to Leicestershire County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee showed 5,811 patients had to wait – in the ambulance or waiting room – for over an hour at Leicester Royal Infirmary between April and the end of October.
Just 7,728 out of 36,799 patients (21 per cent) were seen within 15 minutes. The average wait was 38 minutes.
East Midlands Ambulance Service (Emas) chief executive Richard Henderson said: “The main issues facing the trust continue to be the sustained increase in 999 activity and significant delays in the handover of patients at receiving hospitals.
“These delays in handover impact on our ability to respond to patients in the community in a timely manner.
“Although we are still responding to activity associated with the pandemic, this is not now the main reason for the increase in activity we are seeing.
“The main reason for the increase more recently is the number of patients calling 999 with breathing problems or chest pain or as a result of a fall.”
Fiona Lennon, deputy chief operating officer for the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said wait times often depend on how sick a patient is. She said: “Sometimes we have to take a sicker patient from the waiting room into the department rather than perhaps an Emas patient.
“We prioritise the care of the patients on the sickest patients being seen first.”
The hospital trust and Emas have said they are working together to lessen the strain on emergency rooms.
Ms Lennon said: “The sickest patients are seen by the emergency department teams and patients that can be seen safely and appropriately are being redirected elsewhere.
“Some of our consultants work with the Emas team on physician response units and pre-decision clinical assessment units so they only need to bring in the 50 per cent of patients that really need to come in.
“Our aim is to get patients to the right place first time rather than having multiple handovers of patient care.”
The county council was told about 250 patients a day go to hospitals with problems that could be treated by GPs or pharmacies.
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