‘We’re on it and we will improve’ – Nick Hulme apologises over Colchester Hospital’s A&E wait times

Colchester Hospital. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Colchester Hospital. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

The chief executive of Colchester Hospital has apologised for “letting down” patients after it was revealed the trust has been put on a watch list over its long waiting times in A&E.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of Colchester Hospital. Picture: COLCHESTER HOSPITAL

Nick Hulme, chief executive of Colchester Hospital. Picture: COLCHESTER HOSPITAL - Credit: Archant

Nick Hulme has said 90 people waited longer than the required maximum of four hours to be seen in the hospital’s emergency department yesterday.

In June, Colchester Hospital missed the NHS target of dealing with 95% of patients at A&E within this time frame by 12.7%.

The trust has now been notified that it will be monitored by a regional team from NHS England to make sure the problem doesn’t escalate further.

In a meeting of the trust’s board members today, Mr Hulme said: “We are in the spotlight and indeed we should be. We can’t have the 90 patients yesterday who were promised to be seen in four hours and they weren’t.

“There does need to be a shift in thinking and behaviour and attitudes across the organisation.

“It’s unsafe to have a crowded A&E department. There’s a direct correlation between crowded A&E departments and mortality.

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“I apologise to the board and the community that we are letting too many people down but we are on it and we will improve.

“This needs to improve and it needs to improve rapidly.”

Colchester Hospital has seen a consistently high patient flow at A&E this year, and on several occasions it has publicly warned people to only attend in a genuine emergency because all of its beds were full.

Addressing the board, Alison Power, director of operations, added: “It’s fair to say we are really disappointed and very concerned about our ED (emergency department) performance.”

While David White, chairman of the board, said: “We all want to see that improve and we are doing what we can but it’s getting people to buy into that in the hospital. We have to change behaviours and mind-sets for people to understand the interdependence and that they are part of a much bigger team.”

Mr Hulme said he wanted to “change the narrative” so staff began to think about this issue in terms of the impact it has on patients, rather than targets.

Concern was also raised during the meeting about the plummeting number of junior doctor with the trust.

Diane Leacock, a non-executive director, said: “We are not comfortable with the high levels of vacancies.

“It could potentially cause a risk and we have asked colleagues to put this as a priority.”