Ipswich Hospital’s emergency department one of the top 10 performing for hitting Government target for seeing patients in four hours

The Garrett Anderson Centre at Ipswich Hospital

The Garrett Anderson Centre at Ipswich Hospital - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Hospital bosses praised the “amazing” work of emergency department staff last night, as it emerged the unit was among the top 10 in the country for seeing patients within four hours.

New figures released by NHS England put the Heath Road trust as the eight best out of almost 140 departments for hitting the Government target of seeing, treating and admitting or discharging 95% of patients in that timeframe, between October and December.

It averaged 95.7% in the three months, according to the data.

The news was raised during a meeting of the hospital’s trust board yesterday and it came despite officials admitting that they were continuing to face financial challenges.

But a hospital spokeswoman said: “Our first and biggest priority is safe, compassionate care for patients. It is very pleasing to see that once again we are in the top 10 performing hospitals in the country for achieving national access standards for emergency department care.

“It is a fantastic tribute to not only our amazing emergency department team, but in fact the whole hospital.

“Whilst we are really pleased, we don’t want to be complacent.

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“We’d like to thank our community for choosing well and only using the emergency department when they really need to.”

Speaking at yesterday’s board meeting, hospital chief executive Nick Hulme added: “That is extraordinary. It is a credit to leadership, clinical engagement and hundreds of individuals.”

The success has come as hospitals across the country continue to struggle with a huge rise in admissions.

This issue is one of the reasons that has been given for the trust’s continuing financial situation, which has been described as being in “choppy waters”.

Bosses had anticipated a deficit of between £4.6-7million, but with a surge in non-elective cases and the opening of additional beds, it is thought this could rise significantly.

Hospital bosses have said, however, that they did not expect to break even, but that there is more than could have been done to reduce costs.

The hospital spokeswoman added: “We have seen unprecedented demand for services.

“At the same time we had people who are very ill and need urgent and specialist care going up so we opened additional beds and those additional beds come with costs and that is part of the reason why the financial picture is even more challenging.”

Meanwhile, Colchester Hospital emerged as the eighth worst performing departments for hitting the Government target.

According to the figures, between October and December it saw 83.4% of patients within four hours.

A spokesman for Colchester General Hospital said: “The Trust experienced unprecedented pressures in the last months of 2014 which had a negative impact on our performance against the national standard of 95% of patients spending four hours or less from arrival in the Emergency Department (A&E) to admission, transfer or discharge.

“For example, In November we saw an increase of more than 10% in the number of patients brought in by blue light ambulances compared with the same month the previous year and last month there was an increase of more than 40% in the number of patients treated in the A&E “majors area” “seriously ill adults who were likely to need admission to hospital”.

“We have been caring for high numbers of very sick patients who need to be in an acute hospital but factors such as flu and norovirus in some local nursing homes have been limiting our capacity to discharge patients who are medically fit for discharge.”