Hospital has worst A&E delays in the country for FOURTH month in a row
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A Norfolk hospital has recorded the worst results for A&E patient delays in the country for the fourth month in a row.
According to data released on Thursday, just 54.7pc of patients who visited the department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) in December were seen within the government's four-hour target window, a record low.
It marks the fourth month that the hospital has recorded the lowest figures in the country, having also done so in September, October and November.
It compares to a national average of 79.8pc, 84.1pc at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston and 71.2pc at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn.
The government's target is that at least 95pc of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.
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When considering A&E attendances greater than four hours from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge, the NNUH broke the 5,000 patient mark for the first time, and the QEH also had a record high of 1,780.
Sam Higginson, NNUH chief executive, said: "We have seen a more than 25pc increase in emergency attendances over the last four years and our staff are working really hard to assess and treat patients as quickly as possible to provide safe and appropriate care.
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"We are taking a number of steps to help manage the extra demand, such as opening escalation beds, increasing staffing levels and developing the roles of advanced nursing and allied health professionals.
"We are also building a new ward block which will provide 68 new beds to help improve patient flow from our emergency department and this will be open in the spring.
"This is traditionally one of the busiest times of the winter and we'd urge the public to help NHS staff by getting their flu vaccination, using NHS 111 for advice on urgent medical needs and consulting their local pharmacist for advice on minor ailments."
Peter Passingham, UNISON eastern regional organiser, said: "The Norfolk and Norwich is under intense strain and crying out for emergency treatment of its own.
"Sick and injured people face unbearable waiting times, with barely half of patients being seen within the government's four-hour target window.
"And this is the picture in a mild winter. The impact of a cold snap would bring the system to its knees.
"But these targets aren't just being missed in Norwich, across the country waiting times are reaching new highs.
"The government has to explain urgently how it's going to fix the health and social care system that clearly can no longer cope."