Colchester Hospital report outlines scale of problems faced by under pressure A&E department this winter

Colchester Hospital

Colchester Hospital - Credit: Archant

Bosses at Colchester Hospital have outlined how they can overcome a growing demand for the centre’s emergency department, after admitting they have struggled to consistently meet key targets.

Essex County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee will meet on Wednesday to discuss a report on the hospital which shows patient admissions went up by more than 5% in 2014 over the previous year – an average rise of up to 40 extra patients a day.

The meeting comes two months after a “major incident” was declared at the hospital when the patient capacity was breached causing emergency department waiting times to rocket.

Within the report, written by hospital bosses, they admit they have not been able to consistently meet the key target of patients being seen within four hours in the department.

Although the report says that walk-in patient numbers did drop for a time following publicity of the major incident.

The report says: “Unfortunately, as a result of on-going pressures, we have not been able to sustainably achieve the national target of patients spending four hours or less from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge.

“One of the pressures is the fact that we have changed our electronic patient administration system on November 28 and the changes are taking time to embed which is leading to a delay in data capture and getting patients through the system.”

The extent of the problems are shown in the number of ambulance handovers which break the 15-minute target.

Figures in the report show that over four days – two in November and two in December – there were 56 occasions when the handover took between an hour to two hours to complete. On four occasions the handover took between two to four hours.

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The report includes 12 areas which the hospital wants to improve. These include increasing the number of beds in the resuscitation department, offering more help to frail patients and upping nursing and therapy staff numbers.

Staffing levels are an area of concern for the hospital, according to the report: “Through active recruitment drives, we have recruited a number of nurses who will join us over the coming weeks.

“Whilst we work closely with our temporary and agency nurses to ensure they adhere to all clinical policies during each shift, there is an inherent problem with staff who do not know the department.”

Among the improvements due, are expansions to a diagnosis area and discharge lounge. Both are expected to be completed this month.

The committee will meet at 10.15am on Wednesday at County Hall in Chelmsford.