Lister Hospital waiting times up after surge in A&E patients

Staff at Lister Hospital have been donning protective gear to simulate an Ebola outbreak.

Staff at Lister Hospital have been donning protective gear to simulate an Ebola outbreak. - Credit: Archant

Patients at Stevenage’s A&E department are having to wait longer to be seen after a rise of more than 10 per cent in cases being sent to the hospital.

Between April and September the Lister Hospital department treated 3,200 more patients than in the same period in 2013 – that’s a rise of about 11 per cent.

This has led to three additional ward areas being opened to deal with the higher than expected number of patients.

As a result of the surge the NHS Trust which runs the hospital admits it has proved “challenging” to meet the four-hour target set for patients to be seen.

The figures were revealed to the Comet this week ahead of an East and North Herts NHS Trust board meeting yesterday.

Trust chief executive Nick Carver said the increase was due to emergency services bringing more trauma patients to the hospital from futher afield.

He said: “It is encouraging that people want to come and that the ambulance trust are bringing people here, but it does put considerable pressure on A&E.”

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He denied that the closure of A&E at Queen Elizabeth II hospital in Welwyn Garden City had contributed to the volume of patients.

But he did speculate that it could be people using the NHS 111 telephone and online service and being referred to the hospital rather than making an appointment with a GP. Mr Carver said: “In previous years, there has always been some degree of seasonality when it comes to patients seen as emergencies at our hospitals, some of whom are very unwell indeed and are then admitted as inpatients.

“Typically the winter months are very busy, with levels of emergencies dropping away over the spring and summer months.

“This pattern has not happened this year, and just as in other parts of the NHS the levels of emergency attendances has remained at the same high levels we experienced throughout last winter.

“While we have been able to cope with the additional demand, it has brought its own challenges – especially in terms of our A&E performance, which like many NHS trusts across the country at the moment has dipped below the 95 per cent standard.

“Work is under way to tackle this important matter, but it reflects the challenge we’re facing in common with many parts of the NHS.”