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Did you visit Ipswich Hospital A&E over Christmas and New Year? Waiting times reduce despite patient rise

PUBLISHED: 06:00 26 January 2016

Ipswich Hospital.

Ipswich Hospital.

Archant

Nick Hulme, the hospital’s chief executive, praised staff after more A&E patients were treated in four hours.

The accident and emergency team at Ipswich Hospital has been praised after cutting winter waiting times despite dealing with hundreds more patients than the previous year.

Following fears the NHS was set to face one of its most challenging winters, amid a seemingly relentless rise in demand, it emerged last night that the department treated more patients within the four-hour target time.

The first figures for the Christmas and New Year period have been released ahead of a hospital board meeting on Thursday.

They show there were 3,401 visits to A&E between December 24 and January 7 at the Heath Road site – an average of 226 a day and a rise of 211 overall compared to 12 months ago. But the number seen within the four-hour target rose from 91.3% to 93.4% – just short of the Government’s 95% target.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of Ipswich Hospital, hailed the work ethic of his staff and pledged to further improve the figures next year.

He said: “These statistics recognise the whole hospital’s efforts, not just the emergency department, and I am very pleased we have been able to deliver our promise (of treating A&E patients in four hours) more often than not, despite the fact it has been busier. But I am not really surprised as I always expect us to do well.

“We carried out a lot of winter planning last year, which started earlier in June and involved a lot of people, including pharmacists and external partners.

“We also know hospital activity goes up every year and if it was colder, it might have been busier. But what is reassuring is that even if it had been colder, things would have worked out well at the hospital. We carry out reviews every 24 hours and it is very rare that we have two bad days in a row.” The hospital’s emergency department has long been recognised as one of the best nationally. Last January it was ranked by NHS England as the eighth-best hospital for A&E waiting times.
The emergency department is also rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission, which hailed “outstanding practice in responsiveness and leadership” and an “open culture for quality improvement” in an inspection report last April.

Mr Hulme added: “We all work hard and support each other, and the four-hour target is a promise we aim to deliver to A&E patients, who are often in pain or have anxiety. We want to take that away as soon as possible.”

The news comes as other hospitals continue to struggle with winter demands. Yesterday, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust implemented their Full Capacity Protocol and urged patients to only visit A&E if they were in a life-threatening condition.

Mr Hulme said: “I certainly have sympathy for other hospitals (which are struggling). On my first day nearly three years ago we hit 65%.

“We work with other hospitals and around 30 or 40 visit us or are in contact with us (every year) in order to understand how we have had success. It is important to share good practice in the NHS.”

Did you use Ipswich Hospital over the festive period? Let us know what you thought of the treatment you received.

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