An ‘unusual’ rise in A&E visits hits waiting times

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First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Health reporter, also covering Kidlington. Call me on 01865 425271

RISING A&E visits are seeing hospital staff struggle to meet waiting times, despite the summer being a traditionally quieter period, health officials have warned.

A key waiting time target was not met by the county’s hospital authority from April to June, leaving almost 3,000 patients waiting over four hours.

There were 16,749 visits to A&E in April and May, 2.8 per cent up on 16,296 seen in the same period last year and six per cent up on 15,808 in 2012.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (OCCG) interim director of delivery and localities Regina Shakespeare said: “We are in summer and so we are struggling to understand and to find supported trends or particular themes that will explain this.”

She said the rise in numbers was “very unusual” adding: “It is almost as if it has become even more difficult.”

Getting patients to specialist doctors and testing equipment quicker is vital at Oxford’s John Radcliffe and Banbury’s Horton General hospitals, she said.

Ms Shakespeare added: “The truth is that our patients find it convenient and reassuring to attend A&E in increasing numbers year on year. We simply accept that is the case.”

But she said: “I am very pleased to see we have some green shoots of recovery.”

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs the hospitals – hit the four-hour target in just one of the three weeks to July 20.

This meant 559 people who attended were not discharged, admitted or transferred within four hours of arrival and 7,196 were, equating to about 90 per cent of patients – the target is at least 95 per cent.

A total 2,950 visits were not seen within four hours from April to June.

City GP and board member Dr David Chapman said of the “peculiar” rise: “It is very interesting that the summer is a busy time whereas our belief is that, actually, it shouldn’t be.”

Urgent care lead for OCCG Dr Andrew Burnett said at yesterday’s board meeting that sports injuries, A&E staff holidays and the county’s ageing population with more complex conditions could be behind the increase.

Board member Dr Julie Anderson said referrals by the NHS 111 phone advice service added to pressure, though Dr Burnett said it was working well overall.

Clinical chairman and city GP Dr Joe McManners said summer students and visitors were more likely to use A&E. And Dr Paul Park said a “lack of uptake” of the Oxfordshire Care Summary by GPs and A&E to electronically share patient records should be examined.

But Rachel Coney, chief executive of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, the official NHS watchdog, said the repeated failures were “clearly unacceptable”.

She said: “Local people have the right to services that meet the core promises and pledges about NHS care set out in the NHS Constitution.”

Hospital trust clinical director Dr James Price said A&E has been “busier than ever”.

He said: “Our teams prioritise the provision of safe, effective, dignified care for patients.

“We have made further changes to enhance patient care, including environmental improvements, recruitment of additional senior clinical staff, opening of additi-onal capacity and improved access to tests such as CT scanning.”

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Comments (6)

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7:34am Fri 1 Aug 14

HomerSimpsonDoh says...

This is what happens when the Tory Toffs are left in charge of the health service. They don't give a dam, when none of them uses it.
This is what happens when the Tory Toffs are left in charge of the health service. They don't give a dam, when none of them uses it. HomerSimpsonDoh
  • Score: -2

8:46am Fri 1 Aug 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

HomerSimpsonDoh wrote:
This is what happens when the Tory Toffs are left in charge of the health service. They don't give a dam, when none of them uses it.
Remind me where the private hospitals with an A&E facility are within, say, 30 miles of Oxford?
[quote][p][bold]HomerSimpsonDoh[/bold] wrote: This is what happens when the Tory Toffs are left in charge of the health service. They don't give a dam, when none of them uses it.[/p][/quote]Remind me where the private hospitals with an A&E facility are within, say, 30 miles of Oxford? Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 4

8:56am Fri 1 Aug 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Perhaps it would be useful if the OCCG were to publish details of the "waiting list" times for both urgent and standard appointments at all Oxfordshire health centre?

If the national media is regularly running scare stories about weeks and weeks or even months wait for a stanadard GP appointment - then the general public is bound to avoid bothering to phone a health centre and just head straight to A&E.

Perhaps also highlight the alternative options for the general public? For example, as my own health centre is closed when I'm not working, I usually just nip down to Reading where there is a "walk-in" GP centre open to everyone that is open 8am-8pm 7 days a week. Almost always seen within an hour.
Perhaps it would be useful if the OCCG were to publish details of the "waiting list" times for both urgent and standard appointments at all Oxfordshire health centre? If the national media is regularly running scare stories about weeks and weeks or even months wait for a stanadard GP appointment - then the general public is bound to avoid bothering to phone a health centre and just head straight to A&E. Perhaps also highlight the alternative options for the general public? For example, as my own health centre is closed when I'm not working, I usually just nip down to Reading where there is a "walk-in" GP centre open to everyone that is open 8am-8pm 7 days a week. Almost always seen within an hour. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 4

11:30am Fri 1 Aug 14

Oxonian says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
HomerSimpsonDoh wrote:
This is what happens when the Tory Toffs are left in charge of the health service. They don't give a dam, when none of them uses it.
Remind me where the private hospitals with an A&E facility are within, say, 30 miles of Oxford?
That's an illogical question. HomerSimpsonDoh doesn't say anything about private hospitals. I think he is suggesting that A & E departments are stretched to the limit because not enough funding has been put into the NHS by this Coalition.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]HomerSimpsonDoh[/bold] wrote: This is what happens when the Tory Toffs are left in charge of the health service. They don't give a dam, when none of them uses it.[/p][/quote]Remind me where the private hospitals with an A&E facility are within, say, 30 miles of Oxford?[/p][/quote]That's an illogical question. HomerSimpsonDoh doesn't say anything about private hospitals. I think he is suggesting that A & E departments are stretched to the limit because not enough funding has been put into the NHS by this Coalition. Oxonian
  • Score: -2

1:09pm Fri 1 Aug 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Oxonian wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
HomerSimpsonDoh wrote:
This is what happens when the Tory Toffs are left in charge of the health service. They don't give a dam, when none of them uses it.
Remind me where the private hospitals with an A&E facility are within, say, 30 miles of Oxford?
That's an illogical question. HomerSimpsonDoh doesn't say anything about private hospitals. I think he is suggesting that A & E departments are stretched to the limit because not enough funding has been put into the NHS by this Coalition.
It's perfectly logical.

The story relates to the A&E department at the JR which is an NHS hospital. Homer pointed out that "none of them (Tory Toffs) uses it"

I'd like to know which private hospital A&E department a "Tory Toff" would be taken to following a life-threatening event instead?

(It's also a good time to point out that it was a *Green* candidate for the Northway that was campaigning to stop direct access from A40 to the JR for emergency services access to A&E...)
[quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]HomerSimpsonDoh[/bold] wrote: This is what happens when the Tory Toffs are left in charge of the health service. They don't give a dam, when none of them uses it.[/p][/quote]Remind me where the private hospitals with an A&E facility are within, say, 30 miles of Oxford?[/p][/quote]That's an illogical question. HomerSimpsonDoh doesn't say anything about private hospitals. I think he is suggesting that A & E departments are stretched to the limit because not enough funding has been put into the NHS by this Coalition.[/p][/quote]It's perfectly logical. The story relates to the A&E department at the JR which is an NHS hospital. Homer pointed out that "none of them (Tory Toffs) uses it" I'd like to know which private hospital A&E department a "Tory Toff" would be taken to following a life-threatening event instead? (It's also a good time to point out that it was a *Green* candidate for the Northway that was campaigning to stop direct access from A40 to the JR for emergency services access to A&E...) Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 1

2:22pm Sun 3 Aug 14

Dr Martin says...

HomerSimpsonDoh wrote:
This is what happens when the Tory Toffs are left in charge of the health service. They don't give a dam, when none of them uses it.
Labour cut the NHS budget when they were in power, the Tories have frozen it
[quote][p][bold]HomerSimpsonDoh[/bold] wrote: This is what happens when the Tory Toffs are left in charge of the health service. They don't give a dam, when none of them uses it.[/p][/quote]Labour cut the NHS budget when they were in power, the Tories have frozen it Dr Martin
  • Score: 0

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