More patients missing four-hour A&E target in Suffolk and Essex hospitals

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The trust that runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals has seen the number of people treated within four hours of arrival at A&E fall over the last two years. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The number of patients seen within four hours of arrival at the Accident and Emergency Departments of hospitals in Suffolk and North Essex has slipped since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest government figures.

The number of A&E patients dealt with at the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which runs the Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, fell from 90.5% in July 2019 to 86.3% in July 2021.

This is despite the numbers of patients seen in A&E falling from 28,000 in July 2019 to around 26,000 in July 2021.

Neill Moloney, deputy chief executive of the trust, said: “Keeping our promises to patients and achieving all the national access standards, including seeing and admitting or discharging 95 per cent of all patients attending the Emergency Department within four hours, at our hospitals is very important to us.

“We are striving to deliver this important standard, but we do have to acknowledge we have seen an increase in more acutely ill patients who need our care and support.

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“At times of high pressure, we make sure we see patients with the highest clinical need first and we are sorry this meant others had to wait longer than usual.

“We are working very closely with all our clinical teams and system partners to make sure we see and treat people as quickly as possible both within our Emergency Departments and the Urgent Treatment Centre at Colchester Hospital.”

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West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds does not have to report the figures for the number of people waiting more than four hours because it is part of a trial scheme where A&Es can focus on patients with the most serious conditions. It dealt with 7,400 patients in July this year, up from 6,800 in July 2019.

A spokesman said: “We are currently experiencing a high level of demand for our emergency department. We have recently extended the department and opened new beds to help ease congestion.

"Please remember you can call 111 or use the online service day or night to get urgent health advice and support quickly, and closer to home.”

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