Sheffield hospitals hitting A&E waiting times

The Northern General Hospital
The Northern General Hospital
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Patients are being seen on time in A&E at Sheffield’s hospitals – but too many are waiting for cancer treatment and bed-blocking led to more than 1,600 days of wasted care in a single month.

More than 95 per cent of patients at the city’s main accident and emergency unit were seen within four hours in June, according to statistics released by NHS England.

But in the same month Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust missed the target to begin treating 85 per cent of cancer patients within two months of an urgent referral from a GP.

And patients spent 1,667 ‘bed days’ stuck on wards, despite being well enough to leave hospital.

The figures showed that more than 10,000 patients attended A&E at the Northern General Hospital, and that 95.3 per cent were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

The official target is 95 per cent. June was only the second month the requirement has been met since last October.

Meanwhile 82.5 per cent of cancer patients started treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral – missing the 85 per cent standard.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals – which runs the specialist Weston Park cancer hospital, as well as the Royal Hallamshire and the Northern General – also missed the 93 per cent target for patients with symptoms in the breast, where cancer was not initially suspected, being seen by a consultant within 14 days of an urgent referral from a doctor.

Sheffield saw 92.4 per cent within two weeks.

Most of the bed-blocking patients were waiting for an assessment to be completed.

However, the figure for June was down on the same month last year, when 1,892 days of care were lost.

Bed-blocking limits the numbers of new admissions which can be made.

Kirsten Major, the trust’s director of strategy and operations, said staff achieved ‘as short a waiting time as possible’ in ‘the vast majority of cases’.

“Our cancer treatment waiting times are among the lowest in the NHS. The standards we are required to meet are based on quarterly performance – we have met all seven of the cancer target times each quarter for the last four years, with the exception of one target in one quarter,” said Ms Major.

“We have also had some success in reducing delayed discharges compared to this time last year.”