Hospital waiting time survey

A SNAPSHOT of hospital waiting times in the nation's accident and emergency departments has produced some "shocking" results, although the picture proved healthier in Suffolk.

A SNAPSHOT of hospital waiting times in the nation's accident and emergency departments has produced some "shocking" results, although the picture proved healthier in Suffolk.

The last nationwide casualty watch, organised by the Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales (ACHCEW), saw 167 accident and emergency departments subjected to spot checks at 4.30pm on May 20.

Results showed one patient still waiting in accident and emergency more than 90 hours after arriving at a hospital on Merseyside.

Peter Walsh, director of ACHCEW, said: "Some of these figures are shocking. For many people even a one or two-hour wait in accident and emergency can seem like an eternity.

"These figures show that resources are overstretched in many hospitals and it is the accident and emergency departments that are taking the strain."

There were 11 patients waiting to be admitted to beds at Ipswich Hospital when the casualty watch was carried out.

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One had been waiting for three hours and three had been waiting for more than two-and-a-half hours. They were all were aged over 60 and the average age was 84.

Carol Johnson, chief officer of East Suffolk Community Health Council, said: "The survey is a snapshot of the local NHS. It clearly shows, however, that there is little slack in the system.

"If existing patients cannot be discharged, then it is inevitable that new patients will be waiting like this in accident and emergency."

Chris Dooley, acting chief executive of Ipswich Hospital Trust, said: "The longest wait recorded by the survey team was two hours and 54 minutes. Monday is always a very busy day when there is a lot of pressure on beds because of the high level of admissions during the weekend.

"Huge rises in the number of people needing emergency and urgent treatment, together with severe pressure on beds, continue to be the main challenges faced by clinicians and staff."

The West Suffolk Community Health Council found 12 people in the accident and emergency department at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

One man had received treatment and was waiting for transport home, nine people were being attended to and two patients were waiting to be seen. None had been in the department for more than two-and-a-quarter hours.