NHS trust slammed over worse A&E waiting times in country at King George and Queen’s hospitals

Two hospitals in Ilford and Romford have the worst A&E wait times in the country and are “getting worse”.

NHS figures for December show just under three out of ten A&E patients at King George Hospital and Queen’s Hospital were seen within four hours.

At a meeting on January 1, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs the two hospitals – was taken to task by Redbridge councillors for its “abysmal” performance.

Neil Zammett, chairman of the council’s health scrutiny committee and a retired hospital manager, begged the trust to open more A&E beds, insisting the suggested solution of a system review would only “kick the can down the road”.

Cllr Zammett told BHRUT representatives: “It’s not just awful, it’s abysmal and it has been for ages. If you look at the figures, it’s not only the worst in the country, it’s getting worse. 

“The reality is the things you’re doing [to fix the problem] are not making a difference. It’s not enough, we need more beds open pronto. Another system review, I guarantee, will do absolutely nothing.

“We’re not just calling you, we’re begging you, I think I talk for everyone on this committee when I say we’re fed up to the back teeth. With this performance, you leave us with very little option.”

In a public report last month, BHRUT chief executive Matthew Trainer told councillors part of the problem was that “more and more people, particularly those who are quite sick” were using the emergency department “as their first point of access to care”.

Last October, the emergency department dealt with 18% more patients than during the same month in 2019.

BHRUT chief nurse Kathryn Halford told councillors: “We are, of course, very disappointed about it, we work hard to ensure people have good care.

“We’ve had quite a few conversations about what’s happening and we’re now having different conversations again.

“We’ve had [market research company] Ipsos Mori come in to do a patient survey and since [chief executive Matthew Trainer] joined we’re looking at this in different way. 

“We recognise we’ve been doing the same thing and not having an impact so we want to want to do something different.”

To “get back on track,” the trust says it has added a critical care unit at Queen’s that will free up 30 more beds, as well as extra discharge and stroke rehabilitation wards at King George.

However, any extra beds will be reliant on having the “necessary workforce”, chief executive Matthew Trainer has warned.

An ambulance receiving centre has also been opened at Queen’s to care for patients queuing and to redirect those who don’t need to be admitted to specific departments.

BACKGROUND:

NHS figures for December 2021 show only 29.5% of patients needing admission to the emergency department or A&E (type one) did so within four hours.

BHRUT’s performance figures for type one four-hour waits was already at 44.6% in 2019, falling from 82.8% in 2015.

The average four-hour wait performance for all types of A&E attendances was 60%, 14th lowest of England’s 207 NHS trusts.

An unannounced CQC inspection of the hospital in November last year raised concerns about “overcrowding” and “the length of time people are waiting”.

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter