BOSSES at a Suffolk hospital are celebrating after their accident and emergency service was ranked best in the country for waiting times.

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The A&E team at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds managed to see, treat and discharge 99.9% of all patients within four hours for the week ending February 27.

The score puts the hospital at the top of the UK rankings for the week. The national A&E target is to see, treat and release 95% of patients.

The news comes as staff at the hospital herald three months of continued improvement against the four hour target compared with the same period last year.

Health chiefs say their success is down to a range of measures introduced recently.

They include appointing additional consultants in the Emergency Assessment Unit (EAU) so that short stay patients remain under the care of the same consultant throughout their entire admission; creating dedicated short stay beds for patients who need hospital care for less than 48 hours; changing shift patterns so that extra doctors and emergency nurse practitioners are available to work within A&E; increasing planning to improve handovers between wards; liaising more closely with health and social care staff working within the community to manage discharges more effectively.

The rankings come despite the hospital having to deal with an 8% year to date increase in the number of patients coming to A&E.

Stephen Graves, hospital chief executive, said: “This significant improvement is fantastic news for our patients and shows they are receiving timely access to good quality, effective care.

“It is also a testament to the hard work and determination of our staff.

“What makes this achievement even more noteworthy is that it has come at a time when the number of patients using West Suffolk Hospital has continued to increase, which in turn places more emphasis on working effectively and efficiently.

“Although we are delighted with these figures, we will not become complacent and will continue to look for ways in which we can improve our services still further.

“Our goal now is to build on this performance over the coming months and years for the benefit of everyone accessing emergency care at West Suffolk Hospital.”

Overall, for the month of February, the hospital managed to see, treat and discharge 98.6% of its patients within four hours.

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