Waiting times at South Yorkshire’s A&E departments have increased

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THE number of patients waiting more than four hours for treatment at each of South Yorkshire’s A&E departments increased last year after a waiting time target imposed by the previous government was scrapped.

The biggest increase in South Yorkshire was at Barnsley District General Hospital, where 4.5 per cent of patients waited longer than four hours in 2010, compared to 0.8 per cent in 2009 when it was one of the country’s best performing trusts.

At Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital, 1.9 per cent of patients were not seen within the target time in 2009, increasing to 3.4 per cent in 2010. And 1.4 per cent of patients at Sheffield Children’s Hospital waited longer than four hours in 2009, compared to 2.3 per cent last year.

In 2009, 1.9 per cent of patients at Doncaster Royal Infirmary and Bassetlaw Hospitals’ accident and emergency departments waited more than four hours, compared to 3.3 per cent in 2010.

Rotherham District General Hospital had the least significant change in waiting times - up from 1.5 per cent in 2009 to 1.8 per cent in 2010.

The findings follow the scrapping of the target that 98 per cent of patients are seen at A&E within four hours. The threshold is now 95 per cent.

A Barnsley Hospital spokeswoman said: “Our A&E performance was one of the best in the country and it is only because of the extreme winter weather and knock-on effects of diarrhoea and vomiting outbreaks that we have seen a dip in performance.

A spokeswoman for Rotherham Hospital said they had had an increase in patients and added: “As a health community, 98.4 per cent of people are seen within a four hour period.”

Alison Hollett, Sheffield Children’s Hospital said: “We have had a very busy period since Christmas which is why some families may have had to wait a bit longer but we are still achieving our target, and this year we’ve seen 98 per cent of people within four hours.

Hilary Chapman of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, blamed the increase on “A continued increase in demand and the impact of last winter when we had record numbers of people attending A&E.”