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Staff battle to reduce waiting times

PUBLISHED: 21:00 29 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:46 03 March 2010

STAFF at Ipswich Hospital have admitted that although waiting times at A&E were within national guidelines, they were still unacceptable to patients who had to wait the longest.

STAFF at Ipswich Hospital have admitted that although waiting times at A&E were within national guidelines, they were still unacceptable to patients who had to wait the longest.

David Hodgkinson, director of A&E services said: "Those who are waiting the longest are the patients with the non-urgent problems.

"That group of patients may have to wait because of what is happening to the more serious and critically-ill patients.

"We have waiting times unacceptable for these patients, staff and the trust and we have to improve these waiting times."

His words comes after an independent watchdog warned waiting times in casualty departments across the country are growing, and are set to get worse.

Mr Hodgkinson said waiting times have increased over the last five years, but in line with national trends. Ipswich has seen a two per cent annual rise in emergency patients.

Referring to a report by the Audit Commission Mr Hodgkinson said: "We submitted data to the audit report in 1996, 1998, and 2000 which was used to compare Ipswich with other large hospital trusts, such as Norfolk and Norwich, Brighton, Blackpool, Victoria. Our figures are in the middle and are not at any extreme.

"In the last five years overall the waiting times have gone up slightly in A&E across England and Wales.

"But what is hidden amongst these figures is that accident and emergency departments are doing a lot more for their patients. We are seeing more patients and are also doing more for our patients."

He said Ipswich Hospital's A&E department has a triage system, as featured in the Evening Star, which prioritises patients by quickly sorting critical and seriously injured patients from non-urgent cases.

He welcomed the government's announcement of special funding to tackle waiting list problems.

Last month 96pc of people who came into Ipswich's A&E department were assessed within the first 15 minutes. A total of 84pc waited less than two hours.

Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman Jan Rowsell, said: "We monitor all the information from the accident and emergency department very carefully every month.

"Figures show we are treating more people. But we are achieving the national target."

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