Both A&E departments in the region have missed their latest targets for treating patients within four hours.
The Countess of Chester Hospital and Wirral University Teaching Hospital both failed to hit the 95 per cent target in the latest figures available.
At the Countess of Chester in December 2016 a total of 6,561 people were seen in A&E – 5,912 in major and 649 in minor injuries with 1,155 waiting more than four hours – 1,152 major and three minor. Which means that 82.4 per cent of people were seen within four hours (from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge).
The total emergency admissions to the hospital was 2,179 – 1,548 from A&E and 631 from elsewhere (GP or cottage hospitals etc) with a total of 504 patients having to wait for more than four hours to be admitted to hospital after the decision was taken to admit them to hospital.
At Arrowe Park 10,864 people were seen in A&E – 8,142 major and 2,722 in minor injuries in December 2016. There was a total of 1,946 – 1,819 major and 127 minor – waiting more than four hours which means that 82.1 per cent of people were seen within four hours.
The total number of emergency admissions was 4,010 – 2,588 from A&E and 1,422 from elsewhere – and 663 patients had to wait more than four hours to be admitted after the decision was taken to admit them to hospital.
Director of operations at the Countess of Chester Hospital, Lorraine Burnett, said hospitals across the region were struggling to meet targets.
She said: “While our performance in meeting the four hour emergency department target has worsened over this year, this position is in keeping with other hospitals in the region. We want to improve this performance and we will continue to do all that we can to manage the pressures we are seeing on a daily basis. Those most in need of life saving or emergency care will always be prioritised and seen first and we would like to thank people for their continued patience and understanding during our busiest spells. The positive feedback, understanding and kindness that people have shown to our frontline A&E staff throughout December and January really makes a difference, it keeps us going and for this we are grateful.
“We are restricted by the size of our A&E Department and the numbers of people arriving at our front doors. This unit was built more than 30 years ago with capacity to treat an expected 40,000 patients per year, however in reality it is now dealing with more than 75,000 people every year. We have opened other assessment areas, such as an ambulatory care unit, to help us deal with the increase but we need a bigger A&E if we continue to see this many people attending. The hospital has worked hard this year on initiating plans to redevelop the department. While this isn’t an immediate fix it will us give a department fit for the future.”
Chris Oliver, Director of Operations at Arrowe Park, said an increase in serious and complex cases coming through the doors.
He said: “As one of the biggest and busiest acute hospitals in the region, this has been a very challenging few months for us, as demand on our emergency and inpatient services continues to grow.
“The NHS in Wirral has seen an unprecedented demand on its services this winter with a greater number of acutely unwell patients requiring a hospital stay.
“Not only have we seen an increase in ambulance attendances but a spike in patients with more serious and complex conditions coming through our emergency department being admitted to wards. Regrettably patients with less serious conditions may have experienced a greater wait in our Emergency Department as priority is given to those who are most in need of urgent clinical attention.
“We have been working closely with our health and social care partners so patients who are fit to return home are able to do so. In January, extra beds were opened to help ease some of the pressure.
“I would like to thank the public for their continued understanding and patience during this busy time, but to also thank our dedicated teams who continue to work so diligently during these pressures to provide the best care possible for our patients.
“The public can alleviate some of the pressure we face by choosing more appropriate healthcare alternatives for minor illnesses and injuries, such as the Walk-in Centres in Eastham, at Arrowe Park Hospital and Victoria Central Health Centre in Wallasey.
“For other non-emergencies people are also asked to contact their GP surgery or visit their local pharmacist.”