Norfolk hospital ends streak of worst in country for A&E delays

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk hospital has ended its streak as the worst in the country for A&E patient delays - but admissions of people spending more than four hours there has hit a record high.

Data released on Thursday showed 65.9pc of patients who visited the department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) in January were seen within the government's four-hour target window.

The hospital had recorded the lowest figure in the country for the last four months, but has now risen to fifth from bottom.

Sam Higginson, chief executive, said he was 'encouraged' by the improvement due to additional services in the emergency department.

He said: "There is absolutely a long way to go but we have improved by 10 per cent."

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The hospital has introduced an older person's department and increasing both its children's area and rapid assessment and treatment unit has allowed for quicker ambulance hand overs.

Since mid-December it has trailed a GP streaming service where more minor cases will be diverted instead of attending A&E.

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Despite this, the hospital, which is the busiest trust in the east, can feel too small at peak times said the chief executive.

Mr Higginson said: "A lot of the time it's the sheer number of patients we see coming to the hospital. It's very difficult to manage how we then have the right number of staff, the right number of beds."

A business case is being prepared for funding to increase the size of the department.

The hospital has plans to add an extra 68 beds when two new wards open in the spring.

Mr Higginson said keeping surgical beds free would feed into a consistency plan to ensure it continued to improve following a record low of only 54.7pc in December.

The chief executive said; "The kind of thing that could disturb our improvement is Norovirus and some of the winter bugs. We need a clear consistent plan on how we continue to improve.

Sam Higginson, the new chief executive at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: NNUH

Sam Higginson, the new chief executive at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: NNUH - Credit: NNUH

"We check the sickest persons first we do continue as many patients as we can as possible."

The hospital also saw a record high of 1.524 for the number of patients spending more than four hours from decision to admit to admission.

The government's target is that at least 95pc of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

The national average was 81.7pc. At the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, 82.8pc were seen within the four-hour window, while at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn the figure was 76.8pc.

"These problems aren't made in Norfolk. Across the country waiting times are at unacceptable levels and the government's promises on NHS funding don't go far enough to actually fix our ailing health and social care system."

Read more: Hospital has worst A&E delays in the country for FOURTH month in a row

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