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ULHT hospitals continue to miss A&E waiting times

Almost half of A&E patients at hospitals run by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) waited four hours or longer to be admitted, transferred or discharged in January, figures show.

These figures formed part of the worst A&E waiting times across England since records began, despite lower levels of flu and norovirus than last year.

In January at ULHT hospitals - which include Grantham, Lincoln and Boston - there were 11,017 emergency attendances. Of those, 4,906 patients waited more than four hours to be admitted, transferred or discharged.

The NHS’s target is for 95 per cent of patients to be dealt with in four hours, but at ULHT it was just 55 per cent. This was worse than in January 2018, when 64 per cent of patients were seen within four hours.

ULHT has not met the national standard since September 2014.

Grantham's A&E opening hours were reduced in August 2016 with the overnight closure that is still in place today. ULHT has often been criticised for the closure and what many see as the added pressure then put on to Lincoln County and Boston Pilgrim hospitals.

Across England, the number of patients waiting more than four hours was more than 320,000 in January 2019, with just 84 per cent being dealt with within the target time. This is the worst performance since comparable records began.

The last time trusts across England hit the 95 per cent target was July 2015.

ULHT also missed its targets on cancer care and emergency operations with 69.2 per cent beginning cancer treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral - 16 per cent off target.

The trust also missed its target of 92 per cent of patients waiting less than 18 weeks for a planned operation or non-emergency treatment by nine per cent.

The last time ULHT met its target for planned operations was June 2016.

Mark Brassington, chief operating officer at the trust, said ULHT accepted that its performance is “not where it should be”.

"Over the last year we have seen more patients using our services, often above national increases, which has placed pressure on all of our hospitals,” he said. “We also have workforce challenges, which reflect national shortages of staff across a range of specialities and like many rural areas we have been particularly affected by this.

“We accept that our performance is not where it should be in our emergency departments, and other areas resulting in a delay to see, treat and admit patients as quickly as we would like.

“We have started to implement a comprehensive improvement programme with support from our national as well as local health and social care partners.

“We continue to address our challenges head on in order to improve services for our patients.”

He added that quality of care and patient safety remains the trust’s “top priority”.

By PA and Local Democracy reporters


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