QMC bid to cut average A&E wait of more than five hours
MEASURES have been put in place to cut accident and emergency waiting times after targets were missed.
Patients spent an average of five hours and 20 minutes waiting in A&E at the Queen's Medical Centre in December – with some waiting much longer.
NHS targets state that 95 per cent of patients should be seen within four hours, but in December only 91.8 per cent of people were dealt with in this time.
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust says a five per cent increase in the number of patients in December compared to a year ago contributed to the failure to hit the target
A number of wards were also closed because of infections, while the number of people aged 65 to 74 attending A&E was 22 per cent higher than in 2011, and the number of patients aged 85 and over was up by 23 per cent.
The trust's board was told this week that measures had been taken to ensure the targets were met in January.
Jenny Leggott, director of nursing, said: "Our performance in January is on track to meet the 95 per cent waiting times target.
"Ahead of this winter we invested in extra beds and staffing to improve the timeliness, safety and quality of care for our emergency patients and this has resulted in an improved performance.
"We have worked closely with our primary and social care partners to improve the quality of care for our emergency patients."
The average wait over the past nine months has also missed the target, standing at four hours 11 minutes, although the trust hit the monthly 95 per cent target four times in 2012.
The lowest figure was in February, when it dipped to around 90 per cent. At the time, snow and ice gripped the county.
The trust says action plans have been implemented to improve the flow of patients and capacity.
They include the opening of 22 additional beds in January on Ward B50 – a former ward for elderly people with mental health problems – which has been freed up because the old service has been relocated.
The expected improvement comes despite snow and icy conditions across Nottingham in recent weeks.
The final figures for January, however, won't be known until after this weekend.
Patient campaigner Glen Swanwick, a former member of the Notts Local Involvement Network, which represents patients, said: "I feel sorry for A&E staff – you can never tell what is going to come through those doors.
"All you need is a bit of bad weather or a bad accident and the QMC gets blocked up.
"Let's hope what they have put in place works."
He added: "Patients have to be patient and use A&E only in an emergency."