Assurance for Ipswich Hospital patients

PATIENTS are today being reassured that Ipswich Hospital is on track to meet government targets for A&E.Managers at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust have responded to criticisms about failing A&E procedures by assuring patients that changes are being made to improve services.

PATIENTS are today being reassured that Ipswich Hospital is on track to meet government targets for A&E.

Managers at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust have responded to criticisms about failing A&E procedures by assuring patients that changes are being made to improve services.

Hospital chiefs responded to the contents of a leaked draft report from the NHS Modernisation Agency. It outlined key issues the hospital needed to address if it was to meet strict government targets for A&E waiting times by the last week in December.

Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust chief executive Chris Dooley and medical director Ian Scott openly accepted the hospital faces significant challenges in improving some areas of care. However they insisted measures were being put in place to achieve this.

Mr Scott said: "This report is a report that we asked for after discussions with the health authority. We are very pleased to report they agreed largely with the plan we had already put in place."

Responding to criticisms within the draft report, Mr Scott said the expert team which visited had based its findings on what they had seen during one visit only. He stressed the final version of the report, which is due to be released next week, had undergone significant changes.

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"They were only here for nine hours. They have been engaged with us since the report. It has helped us in terms of prioritising where we put the effort."

The Modernisation Agency's Emergency Care Project Team which visited the hospital declared that there was a need for Ipswich Hospital to re-write its action plan for meeting the four-hour target for A&E waiting times. It also identified problems with leadership and the effectiveness of approaches to identify problems with care and their solutions.

The leaking of the report came on the same day the trust's Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forum revealed it would hold urgent meetings with hospital management over emergency procedures at Ipswich Hospital.

The PPI forum declared it was satisfied with policies governing emergency care at the hospital but it required further evidence to show the procedures were being implemented properly.

In its bid to improve efficiency of A&E services, Ipswich Hospital is in the final stages of readiness for a new Acute Medical Unit (AMU) which will relieve pressure on A&E. It is also asking for the public's help in making use of all appropriate health services rather than simply relying on A&E.

The hospital is improving its procedures in ensuring prompt patient discharge, introducing a system of discharging patients by 11am to free up beds and encouraging GPs to use a new telephone line to A&E consultants.

The new AMU, which is due to be opened later this month, will divert some patients away from A&E said hospital staff.

Mr Scott and Mr Dooley said ways must be found to ensure patients are able to access the most relevant health care for their condition and, in some cases, it may mean they do not need to visit A&E.

"People aren't being pushed away, we're trying to channel them into what is most appropriate for their needs," Mr Scott said.

N Suffolk MPs were due to meet Strategic Health Authority officials to discuss the state of the county's health service.

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