Casualty crisis as waits rise in King’s Lynn A&E department

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More than one-in-five patients have had to wait at least four hours for treatment in Lynn’s accident and emergency department, new figures show.

Only 79.8 per cent of patients attending the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) unit were seen within the required four-hour limit in February.

That is almost two per cent down on the previous month and eight percentage points below the average figure for the whole of England, itself the worst ever recorded.

And the QEH has not achieved the government’s target for seeing 95 per cent of A&E patients within four hours since last August.

But But managers say the unit is also being affected by the wider pressures being felt within the NHS.

Patricia Dunmore, the hospital’s interim chief operating officer, said yesterday: “The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has continued to face pressures recently with a continued increase in the number of ambulances and people attending A&E, compared to last year.

“This situation was often compounded by low numbers of daily discharges or transfers to other places of care.

“Safe patient care is our first priority and with our healthcare partners including the Ambulance Service, West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group and Norfolk County Council, we are working to rapidly address these issues.”

Since last June, A&E attendance data has been recorded on a monthly basis, instead of weekly as was previously the case.

It shows that 9,529 people attended the QEH’s A&E unit during January and February of this year.

A total of 13,518 people went to the unit during the three months between January and March 2015, suggesting that the department has seen around 250 more patients per month so far this year.

However, in August 2015, the last month in which the 
95 per cent target was met, 5,192 attendances by patients were 
recorded.

The latest figures emerged as national statistics for the proportion of A&E patients being seen within four hours fell to the lowest level ever recorded, 87.8 per cent.

The QEH’s figures have been consistently better than those of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where just 72.8 per cent of A&E patients were seen within four hours during February.

However, the proportion meeting the target at the James Paget Hospital, in Gorleston, is much higher at 91 per cent.