Hospital trust begins to show improvement on A&E waiting times

An East London hospital trust which had the worst A&E waiting times in the country is starting to improve.

BHRUT, which runs Queen’s Hospital in Romford and King George Hospital in Goodmayes, has recently reported improvements in how quickly it deals with emergency patients.

The trust’s performance at admitting, transferring or discharging emergency patients within four hours is about 58 per cent, one of the lowest scores in the country and well below NHS England’s target of 95 per cent.

The trust’s chief executive Matthew Trainer has repeatedly apologised for patients having to wait “too long” for care at his hospitals.

In a report to the trust’s board meeting last week, he said recent figures show “encouraging improvement”.

In May this year, 47 per cent of patients with serious health needs were dealt with within four hours at Queen’s Hospital – the best performance since 2019.

At King George Hospital, a newly opened same-day emergency care unit has been credited with boosting the hospital’s poor four-hour performance by 20 per cent.

However, the average time that BHRUT’s 27,000 A&E patients spent in either hospital remains high, at about nine and a half hours per visit in May.

BHRUT now has a “recovery target” of dealing with 76 per cent of patients within four hours by March 2024.

A&E four-hour performance statistics are divided into two categories: type one patients who have life-threatening health injuries or illnesses and type three patients who have more minor issues.

In type one, which accounts for about two-thirds of A&E attendances, King George is the worst of the two hospitals, treating or discharging less than three in ten of its patients within four hours.

Queen’s Hospital, which treats almost double the number of type one patients, deals with nearly 50 per cent within four hours.

BHRUT’s type three scores, which are bringing the trust’s overall performance down, are in fact managed by a separate organisation, the Partnership of East London Cooperatives (PELC).

PELC’s urgent treatment centres at Queen’s and King George treat only 70 per cent of type three patients within four hours – the worst four-hour wait performance in England – and are currently rated as “inadequate” by hospital inspectors.

Due to an unusual contractual arrangement, PELC’s service is out of BHRUT’s direct control as it is commissioned and monitored by NHS North East London.

Trainer has said that his hospitals will not hit their 76 per cent target without PELC improving how quickly and effectively it deals with patients.

PELC is also responsible for assessing all “walk-in” patients arriving at Queen’s and King George Hospitals, directing patients with more serious conditions to the hospitals’ in-house medical teams.

However, the chief executive told BHRUT’s board members he will continue to “work closely” with PELC.

He added that the hospitals are also working to improve their performance by looking at how smoothly patients “flow” through the emergency department, onto wards and then “back to their homes”.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter