Thousands of NHS patients readmitted
THOUSANDS of patients are being readmitted to NHS hospitals as emergencies, weeks after being sent home by doctors.The pressure on beds –many of which are blocked by elderly patients who no longer need to be in hospital but have no other care available – is leading to staff sending others home quickly and some arrive back at A&E within weeks, new NHS league tables reveal today.
THOUSANDS of patients are being readmitted to NHS hospitals as emergencies, weeks after being sent home by doctors.
The pressure on beds –many of which are blocked by elderly patients who no longer need to be in hospital but have no other care available – is leading to staff sending others home quickly and some arrive back at A&E within weeks, new NHS league tables reveal today.
The percentage of patients who add to the bedblocking problem in Suffolk was 13.3pc, more than double the national average of 6.3pc.
More than one in ten of all Suffolk hospital patients have also been discharged late from hospitals.
But despite a large number of delayed discharges and long waiting times, the latest set of NHS performance indicators has been welcomed by Suffolk Health Authority, which claims they show the area is still a healthy place to live and offers good medical facilities.
Gary Scott, head of performance development at Suffolk Health, said: "Suffolk has high performance in all the indicators that measure health improvements.
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"In all of these we have improved over the previous year and in some cases the improvement is also above the national average.
"In life expectancy for men, deaths from cancer and infant mortality rates the county is in the top 10 out of 99 health authorities in the country."
But Suffolk is below average for outpatients waiting longer than six months, inpatients waiting longer than 13 weeks and is way behind other counties for delayed discharges and people urgently referred to a cancer specialist. Only 80.3pc of patients referred by their GP for cancer treatment where seen within two weeks, compared with an average of 92.4pc.
A spokesman for the health authority said this was down to a recruitment problem among cancer specialists, and said the situation has steadily improved over recent months.
Mr Scott said: "The well known issue of delayed transfers of care of patients has had an impact on the waiting time indicators in terms of reduced capacity.
"However, hospitals in Suffolk are treating more patients than ever before despite these pressures and the overall length of time that people are waiting for treatment is falling."
Meanwhile, Ipswich Hospital is falling below the national average, for the number of its patients being seen within a set time.
Patients face longer waits for a hospital appointment at the Heath Road site, and the number of cancelled operations was also higher than average.
Both outpatients and inpatients wait longer to be seen at the hospital than in most other parts of the country.
According to the study only 70.6pc of outpatients wait less than six months to be seen while 70.7pc of inpatients see a hospital doctor within 13 weeks of being referred by their GP.
A spokesman for the trust said: "These performance indicators show that we are a very busy hospital and are doing well but there are areas where we need to do further work.
"There has been a huge increase in emergency and urgent admissions during the past months and this does have a significant impact on our ability to bring in people for planned treatment and care.
"However, bringing down waiting times and waiting lists remains a key priority for us and we have reached our targets of having no patient waiting for more than 15 months for treatment."
She added that, by March this year, the hospital is confident that no patient will have to wait more than 12 months to be seen.
The percentage of operations cancelled in the period studied was only 0.1pc above the national average, at 1.7pc.
The spokesman said the hospital had also seen a marked rise in the number of patients being referred to the hospital by their family doctor.
n See www.doh.gov.uk