Hospital boss hits back at table place

AN ANGRY hospital boss has hit out at a new table which names his unit as one of the worst in the country for keeping patients waiting for treatment.John Parkes, chief executive at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds – which came fifth from bottom in a list of English NHS trusts' patient waiting time performances – says the league is unfair and based on out-of-date figures.

AN ANGRY hospital boss has hit out at a new table which names his unit as one of the worst in the country for keeping patients waiting for treatment.

John Parkes, chief executive at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds – which came fifth from bottom in a list of English NHS trusts' patient waiting time performances – says the league is unfair and based on out-of-date figures.

They show the Suffolk hospital – which came bottom of the regional table – admitted only 65% of inpatients within six months and saw 72% of outpatients within 13 weeks.

But Mr Parkes insisted the hospital was beating waiting time targets set by the Government.


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"These figures only take figures up to December. But the key figures for the year – from April 1 last year to March 31 this year – show targets set by the Government have been achieved," he said.

He stressed that no-one now waited more than 12 months for treatment – last year the figure waiting 12 months or more stood at 241.

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Inpatients waiting nine months had been cut from 725 last year to just under 500 at the end of March.

For outpatients, the hospital had cut maximum waiting times from 26 weeks to 21 weeks in line with Government targets and the number of patients waiting for 13 weeks had been slashed from 745 last April to 544 by the end of March.

Mr Parkes said the latest statistics, part of a comprehensive guide to hospitals compiled by an independent publisher of healthcare guides, were misleading: "What they're not doing is looking at performance targets.

"We have met very important targets set by the Government. In terms of total numbers of patients waiting we had 5,798 last year – that was reduced by the end of March to 5,071 when the target was 5,109. Every target we have been set at a national level we have achieved."

He refused to accept the figures revealed in the latest tables reflected badly on the hospital: "I don't accept these figures are bad, I feel they are misleading. The targets we have been set by the Government have been achieved – waiting lists are falling and waiting times are coming down. I have every reason to believe we will hit the targets set for us this year.

"Other hospitals are clearly ahead of us but that may be down to staffing levels. There have been big differences between staffing levels in terms of medical and nursing staff per 100 beds but there continues to be a huge staff recruitment programme going on which should bring waiting lists down further."

The lists unveiled at the weekend came less than a year after the hospital was downgraded from three-star status to just one star because of a budget deficit of almost £1 million, failing to see some suspected cancer patients within two weeks and cancelling too many operations.

But Mr Parkes renewed his pledge top reverse the hospital's fortunes within two years and was confident the latest figures would not hamper its progress: "I'm confident we will get at least one of our stars back this year and that we will be back to full three star status next year."

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