Nearly a third of patients had to wait more than four hours to be seen at Lynn’s accident and emergency department last month, new figures have shown.
Bosses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) say the increase is due to “significant” pressures during the winter, including rising year-on-year attendance rates.
NHS data has revealed that just 69.2 per cent of patients were seen within the government’s four hour target in February, compared with a target of 95 per cent.
The proportion of people being seen within the time limit has been consistently falling in recent months, from a peak of more than 93 per cent last summer.
Ciara Moore, the QEH’s chief operating officer, said: “We have experienced significant winter pressures throughout the first part of 2018 with an increase in A&E attendance and acutely unwell patients seeking our care.
“This has had an impact on meeting the four hour A&E target.”
Although the daily number of patients attending the unit has remained largely steady during January and February, the hospital says it has seen a steady upward trend in numbers compared with the previous year.
A total of 4,774 patients attended A&E at the QEH in February this year, up more than 200 on the same month in 2017.
And monthly attendance totals were up on the previous year in eight out of the last 11 months.
Ms Moore added: “This is a regional and national problem with many trusts experiencing similar issues.
“During this time we have also worked closely with partners across the healthcare system .
“Patient safety remains our top priority and our dedicated frontline staff continue to work exceptionally hard to maintain this at all times.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the medical, nursing and other health professionals for everything they have done for our patients.”
Although its total is significantly below that of the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston the QEH’s figure is seven percentage points better than the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.
The figures have also led a leading medical professionals’ body, the Royal College for Emergency Medicine, to urge the public to lobby their MPs to demand action on the issue.
They say previously unacceptable performance levels have become “normal.”