Flu cases contributed to missed A&E targets in Sheffield

A&E at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield
A&E at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield
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High numbers of flu and respiratory illnesses during the winter period contributed to Sheffield’s casualty waiting times being missed, health bosses have said.

Between October and December, 89.3 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at A&E at the Northern General Hospital - below the 95 per cent national target.

A report to the NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group said an increase in pneumonia, flu and lower respiratory tract infections had contributed to the target being missed.

Hundreds of extra people visited A&E at the Northern General Hospital over Christmas and New Year – up from 10,338 in winter 2013 to 10,855 this year.

But the report said despite the challenges this winter, the local urgent care system is ‘working well’.

It said A&Es across the country had faced high numbers of people with respiratory illnesses.

The report adds: “More locally, this scenario has been seen across the entire Yorkshire and Humber region of which Sheffield is a part.

“In recent years the marker for success for Accident and Emergency centres has been achievement of the four hour access time target.

“This national target was developed to ensure that patients moved safely and effectively through A&E.

“Specifically in Sheffield there has been a step change increase in lower respiratory tract infections, pneumonia and flu which have added significant additional pressure on to the local system in terms on increasing demand on primary care, ambulance services and also secondary care.

“This has led to increasing admission rates.”

This winter, Sheffield’s NHS was given an extra £7.6m to help provide additional resources to deal with high demand during winter.

An extra 108 beds were opened at the height of the demand, some patients were transferred to the Royal Hallamshire and the Red Cross offered ambulances to help transport patients.

But the report said services across the city had still come under strain.

It said: “Despite the additional planning and funding Sheffield has struggled this winter to consistently deliver the national four hour target for adults.

“The local system has been under particular pressure from October with performance for quarter 3 dropping to 89.3 per cent against the target of 95 per cent.

“However, it should be noted that target had been met for the previous six quarters and it is considered that recent issues are very much due to the acuity of patients.”