Patients are being treated more quickly at one of London’s busiest hospitals after it set up an “A&E lite” unit to filter off the less serious cases.
Up to 91 per cent of patients on the best days have been seen within the four-hour target at Queen’s hospital in Romford, where performance had fallen below 80 per cent.
Delays were so bad that five serious incidents were declared between May and September as a result of the amount of time it took to get patients out of ambulances.
The “Majors Lite” area, set up with £4 million of winter funding from NHS England, concentrates on patients who do not need to be admitted to hospital.
In addition, the elderly receiving unit at Queen’s A&E has been extended to 30 beds to treat the increasing number of frail and elderly patients.
Hospital bosses now hope to be able to meet the 95 per cent national A&E target by the spring due to the focus on discharging patients as soon as they are fit to go home.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust, which runs Queen’s and King George hospital in Ilford, has hit the target in only three of the last 51 months. Last week it managed to see 88 per cent of its 5,323 patients in time.
Sarah Tedford, the trust’s chief operating officer, said: “The initial findings from Majors Lite have been encouraging. With winter fast approaching, we are pro-actively introducing initiatives that will ensure our patients are seen and treated as quickly as possible.”
Last week a total of 91,787 people sought emergency care in London, with Barking, Havering and Redbridge the fifth busiest NHS trust. Delays across the capital meant 6,279 patients had to wait more than four hours to be seen.
Seven of the capital’s 19 NHS trusts failed to hit the national waiting target. London North West Healthcare trust was again the worst performer in the country for its main A&E units, with only 65.7 per cent of patients seen in time at Northwick Park and Ealing hospitals.
This was the fourth week in the last two months where the trust has been at the bottom of the national league tables.