A&E pressure threatens to hit hospital funding
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Hospital chiefs are hoping a regulator will agree new targets for A&E performance in order to access more than £500,000 of funds.
The A&E department at James Paget University Hospital is coming under increasing pressure with higher-than-expected increases in patient demand.
Earlier this year it agreed a target with NHS Improvement for how many patients it would treat within four hours of them presenting at A&E.
But the hospital has missed this target in the last few months, with chiefs blaming a 7pc increase in demand instead of the predicted 2pc.
The hospital needs to hit the target to unlock funding worth around £540,000 - which is why chiefs are now asking for a new target to be put in place that reflects the true levels of demand.
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Peter Hargrave, a non-executive director, said the rise in number of patients was coinciding with the reduction of community beds at the Patrick Stead Hospital, in Halesworth.
Christine Allen, chief executive of the hospital, said: 'Clearly staff are working their socks off.
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'We're doing all we can to try and support staff and to improve our position, but improving patient flow with that level of growth is very hard to manage whne we were planning a 2pc increase,' she added.
'It's not a position we're happy to be in.'
An A&E 'local delivery board' has been set up to find ways of improving A&E performance.
It is chaired by Ms Allen and comprises representatives from other health bodies in the region.