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Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital just outside top 10 in England for A&E waiting times

PUBLISHED: 17:04 10 March 2016 | UPDATED: 13:20 11 March 2016

The Ipswich Hospital emergency department.

The Ipswich Hospital emergency department.

Suffolk’s two main hospitals are now ranked just outside the top 10 in England for A&E waiting times, official figures show.

Colchester General Hospital has also significantly risen up the national league table, from being ranked the second-worst out of 138 acute hospitals last September to being the 73rd best in January.

Last night, hospital bosses praised staff for “stepping up magnificently” to rises in demand and winter challenges.

At Ipswich Hospital, 93.6% of 7,093 Type 1 emergency A&E admissions – the most severe cases – were seen within four hours in January, NHS figures published today showed. It was ranked the 11th best hospital nationwide.

At West Suffolk Hospital (WSH) in Bury St Edmunds, 93.5% of 5,413 Type 1 emergency A&E admissions were seen within four hours, ranking the hospital the 12th best.

The hospitals were in 25th and 15th position respectively last September.

Monthly A&E figures began in June last year, meaning the figures cannot be compared with last year.

However, this newspaper has previously reported how there were 3,401 A&E visits at Ipswich Hospital between December 24 and January 7 – a rise of 211 from the previous year. There were also A&E rises at WSH (3.9%) and Colchester General Hospital (7.8%) in the first two weeks of December.

An Ipswich Hospital spokesman said: “It has been a very busy winter and we are pleased to see that our performance compares well across the country.

“We are also determined to consistently achieve the national access standard of 95% of patients attending the emergency department being seen within four hours.”

Only seven hospitals in England met the 95% national A&E four-hour target in January.

Jon Green, chief operating officer at West Suffolk Hospital, said: “Although we are disappointed that we did not achieve the 95% target, we are pleased that our emergency department remained one of the country’s best performing during January.

“We have continued to see an increase in attendances, while many of the patients coming to the hospital have been very unwell and needed high levels of care. Our staff have worked hard to manage any peaks in demand and make sure everyone receives the care they need.

“We always encourage people to use the ED sensibly and consider other healthcare options, such as their GP, pharmacist or NHS 111, for minor illnesses or injuries.”

Meanwhile, at Colchester General Hospital, 83.1% of 6,733 Type 1 emergency A&E admissions were seen within four hours.

A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are pleased with our improved performance because it means that 1,377 more patients were dealt with in under four hours this January compared to a year ago.

“Much of the credit for this marked improvement should go to our staff who have stepped up magnificently to an increase in demand that has been significantly above the national average.

“We have also had strong support from partner organisations, such as North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, Social Services, the ambulance service, Social Services and the Anglian Community Enterprise [which runs the community hospitals in Clacton and Harwich, and provides other community services, such as community/district nurses].

“More effective collaboration is essential to improving performance against the national four-hour standard.

“We have recruited extra staff, received invaluable advice and support from national experts in the Emergency Care Intensive Support Team [ECIST] and have made improvements to our emergency care pathway, such as by introducing a Clinical Decisions Unit.

“While the progress we have made is satisfying, we remain committed to making further improvements so that all patients in A&E are seen in a timely way and provided with the best possible care, consistently.”

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