Patients kept waiting in the region

ONE of Suffolk's hospitals has been named as one of the worst in the country for keeping patients waiting for treatment.The West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds came fifth bottom in a list of English NHS trusts' patient waiting time performances – and was bottom in the regional table.

ONE of Suffolk's hospitals has been named as one of the worst in the country for keeping patients waiting for treatment.

The West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds came fifth bottom in a list of English NHS trusts' patient waiting time performances – and was bottom in the regional table.

The figures, part of a comprehensive guide to hospitals published yesterday, showed the unit admitted only 65% of inpatients within six months and saw 72% of outpatients within 13 weeks.

It comes less than a year after the hospital was downgraded from three-star status to just one star because of a budget deficit of almost £1 million, failing to see some suspected cancer patients within two weeks and cancelling too many operations.

No-one from the West Suffolk Hospital was available for comment yesterday, but chief executive John Parkes has previously pledged to improve services and reverse the hospital's fortunes by 2004.

He said a £5.6million capital injection from the Government would be used to fund a huge increase in beds and theatres and would be crucial to his task.

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The report, based on data compiled by Dr Foster, an independent publisher of healthcare guides, looked at a variety of indicators, including waiting times and mortality rates, and found huge regional in standards of care.

It ranked Bedford Hospital as the best in the region for mortality rates and Colchester-based Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust the best for inpatient and outpatient waiting times.

But the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow had the worst mortality rates and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals had the worst outpatient waiting times.