NEW evidence showing the extent of York Hospital’s A&E crisis has emerged as it struggles to cope with longer waiting times, missed targets, and reduced staff numbers.
Last year, 64 patients waited more than twelve hours in A&E before being discharged or moved to another department. This is more than seven times the number of patients who had to wait over 12 hours in 2011/12.
Campaigners claim the waiting times are “a local symptom of a national problem”, but said there needed to be “more local input” into the hospital trust and one described the figures as “alarming”.
One patient had to wait for nearly 24 hours to be treated, the figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal. This compares to the longest waiting time of 15 hours 32 minutes in 2011/12.
At weekends there is just one consultant available from 8am to 10pm, while overnight there is no on-site consultant. One middle grade doctor is available in the emergency department overnight to support the consultant throughout the week, and during weekends. The hospital says its coverage is “better than most.”
Some patients have had to be cared for in a corridor until a suitable clinical space was made available.
A recent report by Vale of York CCG found that in September the hospital missed its targets for the percentage of patients that wait no longer than four hours in A & E. The target of 95 per cent has missed by 878 incidents resulting in an actual performance of 92.8 per cent.
The report says staffing levels are now being reviewed as a result.
Dr Mick Phythian, of Defend The NHS York, said the increase in waiting times was “a local symptom of a national problem caused by the coalition Government spending on bureaucracy rather than patient needs.”
Martin Brampton of Keep Our NHS Public said: “The figures are alarming, especially as the York NHS Walk-in Centre has been relocated into the emergency department of York Hospital.”
A spokeswoman for York Teaching Hospital said: “Year on year there has been an increase in attendance at A&E. Throughout the year there are inevitably peaks and troughs in demand and last winter the hospital had a prolonged spell on red alert which had an effect on our Emergency Departments.
“This was due to a combination of being at the peak of winter pressures, where we see a lot more very sick patients, and a prolonged outbreak of a diarrhoea and vomiting virus which closed wards and reduced available beds.”
She said staff worked tirelessly to ensure patients were prioritised according to clinical needs and said that regrettably meant some had to wait longer than others, as at all hospitals.
She said: “We are working hard to improve our performance as we would not want any of our patients waiting an excessive length of time.
“Despite these pressures, we are pleased that most of our patients give positive feedback.”