A&E waits on the rise at Ipswich

LONG waits at Ipswich Hospital's accident and emergency department have increased, despite new initiatives being put in place to ease pressure on the service.

LONG waits at Ipswich Hospital's accident and emergency department have increased, despite new initiatives being put in place to ease pressure on the service.

Government targets state that 98 per cent of patients should be seen within four hours but in March only 93pc of patients were seen within four hours.

This is down from 97pc in January.

The hospital's figures do show, however, that there was a sharp increase in the numbers of people attending A&E - 5,160 people, compared to 4,055 in February.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the hospital, said: "It was an exceptionally busy month which explains why there is a slight decline.

"The number of people not being seen within four hours is very small but we are committed to doing everything we can to meet targets."

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In November the hospital opened a new Acute Medical Unit which was heralded as the answer to many of the problems within the A&E department but the new figures show the numbers of people waiting over four hours have gradually increased since the end of last year.

Ms Rowsell denied the AMU is not having an impact.

She said: "It is working extremely well and ensuring more patients are getting the right treatment quicker.

"We are changing the way we organise services so that a patient's journey through the hospital is smoother.

"All departments and wards have to work together."

The hospital is also about to launch a poster campaign to try to cut down on the numbers of people going to A&E unnecessarily

Ms Rowsell said: "People may come to A&E because they don't know where else to go and it may be that they could be dealt with better by a pharmacist or their GP."

Have you been affected by long waits at Ipswich Hospital or have you been surprised at how quickly you've been seen? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Elsewhere in the hospital, waiting times for operations have continued to come down despite an increasing number of patients needing treatment.

In March, 495 people were waiting more than 13 weeks for an outpatient appointment. This has come down from more than 800 since September.

The number of people waiting more than six months for an inpatient stay has also come down. In March there were 260, a decline of 85 compared to the previous month.

This is despite increasing numbers of people needing to be seen. The total number of patients waiting for an inpatient stay increased to 2076 in March from 2064 in February.

The number of people waiting to be seen as a day case rose steadily throughout the year to 3050 in March.

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