East Kent Hospitals Trust has released figures to show emergency department waiting times are improving for their patients, despite a rise in the number of people needing emergency treatment.
The improvement in East Kent’s ‘Type 1’ waits – waits in an emergency department- in the last year is the fourth best improvement in England.
Between April 2018 and March 2019, 13,362 more people attended the Trust’s emergency departments and minor injuries units than in the previous year, an increase of 6.4 per cent.
In total, staff treated 220,738 people over that period, or 605 people a day.
Despite the rise in the number of people using the service, the Trust’s performance against the national waiting time standard of patients being seen, treated, admitted to a hospital bed or discharged within four hours has improved.
The emergency department wait time performance has improved by 8.2% from 2017/18 to 2018/19 – the fourth best improvement in England.
In 2017/18 159,567 people attended East Kent hospitals and 104,137 were seen within four hours.
In 2018/19 176,083 people attended and 129,373 were seen within four hours
The Trust’s ‘overall’ performance -patients being seen in both the emergency departments and the minor injuries units- has improved by 3.4%.
In 2017/18 207,376 people attended and 151,777 were seen within four hours.
In 2018/19 220,738 people attended and 173,889 were seen within four hours.
Susan Acott, East Kent Hospitals Chief Executive, said: “ Urgent care staff have worked incredibly hard this year to improve waiting times for patients, and I would like to thank them for their hard work.
“We have more work to do to continue to reduce the waiting times for patients, but this year’s steady improvement is encouraging.”
East Kent Hospitals secured £6.42m in national funding for new observation wards at its emergency departments at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate last September, and invested £13.5m to increase staffing and expand services ahead of the winter.
Between December 2018 and March 2019, 73,136 people attended its emergency departments and minor injury units – 6,261 more than in the same period the previous year.
The teams increased the overall percentage of these patients being cared for within the four-hour standard from 71.9% last winter to 76.5% this winter.
East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has emergency departments at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital, Margate, and William Harvey Hospital, Ashford.
The Trust also runs a 24/7 minor injuries unit at Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury, and an 8am-8pm minor injuries service at Buckland Hospital, Dover.
Possible changes to services including A&E
Proposals which could include moving many services, including accident & emergency, to a new build hospital in Canterbury were given the go-ahead for the next steps at a meeting of the Sustainable Health Care in East Kent Joint Committee of NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in March.
Changes are planned to east Kent’s urgent, emergency and acute medical care -including A&E departments – specialist care, and planned inpatient orthopaedic care (such as hip and knee operations).
Commissioners are also discussing whether to move maternity and children’s inpatient services to a new hospital in Canterbury and options for moving specialist services to either Canterbury or Ashford.