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Challenge over Queen Elizabeth Hospital emergency waiting times clear

The chief executive of Lynn’s hospital has said a project will help free up beds for emergency care despite worrying new data emerging.

Caroline Shaw admitted the huge demand for emergency services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is proving “hugely challenging” but measures are in place to ease the pressure.

It comes as the newly-released data showed that A&E patients at the QEH had to wait more than four hours to be seen on 12,028 occasions in 2018-19.

Caroline Shaw, chief executive of Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Caroline Shaw, chief executive of Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital

This meant the QEH was 12 per cent below the NHS’s 95 per cent target for patients being admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of arrival.

Mrs Shaw said: “There is a demand for services due to the population growing and people living longer.

“We are in an area where people are choosing to retire.

“It is a real challenge when emergency departments are full as is the challenge of offloading people from the ambulance.

“We have a project for emergency care and emergency flow. If you have flow, you have got empty beds, and we are looking at ways to get people home for lunch.

“We need empty beds for the right period of the day.”

A Home First project at the hospital is looking at patients who have extended stays over 21 days.

And regarding the NHS waiting time figures, Mrs Shaw said the QEH was “in the middle of the pack” nationally.

She added that the QEH six-week average for A&E waiting times were better than in the Midlands.

While 78 per cent of patients in the Midlands and East were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours, in Lynn this six-week average was 81 per cent.

Mrs Shaw also said the QEH ranked 40th out of 123 trusts, and 11th out of 40 regionally for this.

“Our focus is absolutely providing compassionate care to patients and we have delivered an action plan,” Mrs Shaw continued.

NHS bosses recently unveiled plans to scrap the four-hour standard – introduced in 2004 – arguing it is outdated due to the changing nature of emergency care.

The chief executive also said discussions are taking place with commissioners regarding the imminent closure of the Fairstead Surgery.

It is expected many Fairstead users would go to the QEH for emergency treatment instead.

Mrs Shaw added: “We do not provide primary care services. We are a secondary care hospital.”

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