Saturday, December 20, 2014

UK Health Radio –Medical News Update on the Hour - A&E Waiting Times

UK Health Radio –Medical News Update on the Hour
A&E Waiting Times
The BBC’s health correspondent Nick Triggle has been looking at the problems that A&E departments are facing in the UK and asking why? In his report he says that we need look no further than Salford Royal Hospital to realise the point the NHS has got to.
That trust is generally regarded as one of the best - if not the best - in the UK. It outperforms its counterparts on a whole host of measures from patient satisfaction to waiting times.
But last week it missed the four-hour A&E waiting time target - dipping below the 95% standard by the narrowest of margins. This is not a quirk. It's been dragged down along with the rest of the hospital sector, Triggle said.
Once you strip out the small units and walk-in centres, where the pressure is less intense, seven out of eight of England's 141 major units are now missing the target.
If this sort of performance continues for the rest of the month, the quarterly results for October to December will be the worst since the target was introduced in 2004.
Performance levels in Wales and Northern Ireland are even lower (Scotland seems to be performing at a similar level to England, although as the data there lags behind the other parts of the UK, it is hard to say for sure).
This is despite ministers in all four corners of the UK handing the health service extra So why are things deteriorating? The quick answer - and the one that was pointed out repeatedly when the BBC launched its NHS winter tracker project on Friday - is that attendances are going up across the UK.
During the first week of December there were just over 436,000 visits - up by nearly 30,000.
But what is interesting as you delve down into the data is that it's not just A&E units that are finding it difficult - there are pressure points across the whole system.
Nearly a fifth of patients who go to A&E need to be admitted into the hospital for more complex care than can be given in an emergency department. Sometimes they face long waits (classed as over four hours) before a bed can be found for them. These are known as "trolley waits".
The latest weekly figures show they topped 7,000. That is the highest since weekly collections began in 2010.
But hospitals are also finding it difficult to discharge patients. A significant factor in this is the squeeze on councils' social care budgets. Many of the patients who end up in hospital are frail and elderly, and when they are ready to be released need support in the community to get back on their feet. If it's not there, they have to stay in hospital, which occupies a bed often needed for other patients.

So what next? "Predictions are very hard to make," says Chris Hopson, of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals. "What we don't know is what will happen with Norovirus or flu. Services are so stretched at the moment, that all it will take is a spike in those to make it very difficult for us."
It seems to be the case that despite all the planning, all the money, and all the hard work of NHS staff, this winter will hinge on factors outside everyone's control.
Amanda Thomas
UK Health Radio –Medical News Update on the Hour
Kindly sponsored by

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.