Health chief claims hospital failing its patients

THE West Suffolk Hospital's emergency department is “failing” its patients by not meeting a basic target, a top health boss has claimed.

Naomi Gornall

THE West Suffolk Hospital's emergency department is “failing” its patients by not meeting a basic target, a top health boss has claimed.

At an NHS Suffolk Board meeting yesterdayit was revealed that West Suffolk Hospital did not meet the target of seeing 98% of patients in A&E within four hours up to November 2009 and may also fail to meet this target over the winter months.

It was heard that the overall performance in meeting this target has deteriorated over the winter months.

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Carole Taylor Brown, NHS Suffolk chief executive, said on the current expectations, it would mean an overall fail for NHS Suffolk across the whole patch.

She said: “It will be the third year West Suffolk fail the basic target. My intention is to meet the current chief executive.

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“Ipswich Hospital has managed to turn its situation around but we are not seeing that drive coming through from West Suffolk. It is a major failure to West Suffolk people as it currently stands.”

Up to the end of November 2009, NHS Suffolk met its overall target of treating 98% of patients within this time period. However board members are concerned that looking ahead, it seems unlikely to hit that target again due to under-performances by Ipswich Hospital, where the current expectation is 97.91%, and in particular, West Suffolk Hospital, where it is expected to treat 97.2% of patients in the four-hour time-frame.

NHS Suffolk said it has provided both clinical and management support to West Suffolk, with GPs helping out with shifts at weekends and overseeing a programme to prevent unnecessary admissions.

Gwen Nuttall, acting chief executive at West Suffolk Hospital, said: “We are extremely disappointed that current projections suggest we will fall short of the 98% target for seeing, treating and discharging A&E patients within four hours.

“We have worked extremely hard to improve our performance in this area and constantly review the processes we have in place for making sure patients receive timely access to good quality, effective care.

“However, the last year has seen a 21% increase in the number of emergency admissions, with the majority coming from GP referrals. The recent outbreak of norovirus has also put extra pressure on the department.”

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