Hospital fails to reach 98% A&E target

HEALTH chiefs have warned that a Suffolk hospital will fail to meet its contractual obligations in its accident and emergency department – despite being named one of the nation’s top performers just a few weeks ago.

Under its contract with NHS Suffolk, the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, has to see 98% of all patients within four hours. But NHS Suffolk has now revealed the hospital will fail to meet the contract standard for 2010/2011.

Despite falling short of the standard, NHS Suffolk will not be withholding funds from the hospital. Instead, NHS Suffolk bosses say they have used the contract terms to bring about better performance from the hospital.

Tracy Dowling, NHS Suffolk’s director of strategic commissioning, said: “During 2010-11, West Suffolk Hospital continued to struggle to achieve the contractual standard of 98%.

“NHS Suffolk used the performance management framework within the contract to ensure that there was improvement for Suffolk patients.

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“We are pleased to see the effect of this in recent months and have now closed the contract notices in relation to this standard. It is also important for people to remember that A&E is for emergencies and that they can often see their GP for minor illness and injury, or talk to their GP or pharmacist.”

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital confirmed it had struggled to meet the contracted target, but he added: “West Suffolk Hospital’s A&E unit has shown continuous improvement over the last four months for seeing, treating and discharging patients within four hours.

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“In February, we achieved 98.6% and by March this had risen to 99.7%.

“This achievement has been recognised by NHS Suffolk as part of a range of measures introduced across the trust to improve services for patients.

“The improvement comes at a time when more patients than ever before are using the hospital and it is a testament to the hard work and determination of staff to provide good-quality, effective emergency care.

“Being placed as the UK’s number one for treating 99.9% of A&E patients within four hours during one week in February was a boost for everyone at the hospital, but we are not complacent and will continue to look for ways to improve our services still further.”

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