More patients have been treated within four hours at England’s largest provider of A&E services this winter, despite a huge increase in people needing urgent care.
Figures published today show nearly 5,000 more people were seen and treated within four hours at Barts Health hospitals this January compared with last. Over 3,200 more people attended the Trust’s three A&E departments last month, yet performance against the national 4-hour standard improved by over 5 per cent; up from 81 per cent to 86.5 per cent.
The biggest improvement was seen at Whipps Cross Hospital, where performance jumped from 77 per cent of patients being treated within four hours last January to over 88 per cent this year. This is despite the hospital treating over 15,000 patients; 1,400 more than last January.
Doctors and nurses say the dramatic improvement is down to the whole hospital working together to make sure there are more beds free for those who really need them. This has reduced the average length of time patients need to stay in hospital, which as well as being better for patients is making more beds available and preventing delays in transferring other people to wards.
Dr Charlotte Hopkins, Clinical Director for the Emergency Department and Paediatrics at Whipps Cross said: “It’s been a really tough winter this year, with huge demand on our emergency department. Staff across the hospital have pulled together as one team and our partners have been doing everything they can to provide alternative community care or help patients leave hospital as soon as they’re healthy enough. It means we’ve kept more beds free for the most poorly patients coming through our doors.”
Before this winter all local health and care partners agreed a new emergency care improvement plan. London Ambulance Service, GPs, primary care, community and social care services are working together with hospitals in a joined-up way to ensure that people get the right treatment in the right place at the right time. As part of this Barts Health set up a winter operations centre to monitor demand in real time, and co-ordinate a response to peaks in demand. The Trust also allocated £1m of internal funds on schemes to tackle hot spots and the improved performance is evidence that the plans are working.
Newham and The Royal London hospitals also saw more patients within four hours than this time last year, despite more people attending their A&Es.
At Newham, 88 per cent of patients were treated within four hours despite an increase of more than 1,000 extra patients. Almost 14,000 patients came through the doors of Newham A&E in January.
At The Royal London hospital performance jumped from 78 per cent to over 82 per cent this year, despite the team treating almost 15,000 patients - an increase of 800 patients compared to last year.
Chief Executive Alwen Williams said: “I am hugely grateful to all our staff for working so tirelessly in the face of such increased demand. This improvement is testament to their hard work. We will do all we can to continue this improvement and make sure our patients get the care they need as promptly and safely as possible.”
January’s performance follows similar improvements in December when over 1000 more patients came through Barts Health emergency departments but over 2,000 more were treated in less than four hours; a 7 per cent improvement on December 2016.