Politicians react to A&E waiting times and pressures

Ambulances outside Wansbeck Hospital
Ambulances outside Wansbeck Hospital

Politicians have reacted to news that A&Es in the county have hit natiaonl waiting-time targets yet remain under considerable pressure with high volumes of patients.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust met Government targets for patients being seen, treated, discharged or admitted within four hours, between October and December, with 94.8 per cent dealt with across its A&E units and 95.4 per cent success, including minor injuries units.

But during the festive period, this was not the case. For the week ending December 21, 89.8 per cent were dealt with in the time period and for the following week, it was 90.2 per cent. The dip comes as a renewed plea is made for people to only visit A&E for serious health emergencies.

Scott Dickinson, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, said: “We know that A&E departments across the country are facing unprecedented demands and we know they are facing this challenge against the backdrop of a ‘top-down reorganisation of the NHS’, which broke David Cameron’s promise to the electorate.

“Residents will make up their own mind about the state of the NHS after five years of this ConDem coalition but they can be sure that Labour, as the party who set up the NHS, is the party which will value this vital public service.”

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate said: “As the winter busy season at our hospitals seems to be creating high pressures on our medical services, I continue to talk with doctors at GP surgeries, and leading medics at our hospitals to try to work out how best to help patients get treatment appropriately.

“I have been concerned for some time now that changes in staffing at the 999 and 111 call centres, from fully trained and experienced nurses to the present staff who are, on the whole, less medically qualified, is leading to poor over-the-phone assessments and they are sending more and more callers to A&E when this is often not the right level of medical care required.

“We have some of the best A&E services in the world, but we must ensure that those patients who actually need to talk to a pharmacist or be checked by a GP are not turning up at A&E. I am concerned that those with complex health problems and needing emergency care are at risk because those with non-emergency medical problems are failing to use other medical capacity effectively and appropriately.”

“I will be continuing to listen to local people and hear from them their experiences at pharmacy, call-line and GP levels. I am regularly talking to health ministers and local healthcare bosses with my findings and concerns.”

Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith said: “There are very serious pressures on the NHS, particularly this winter, and that is why the Liberal Democrats have made a commitment to increasing NHS funding by £8billion a year on top of inflation by 2020.

“This, along with the new Specialist Emergency Care Centre which is being built in Northumberland, will make a big difference to people in Northumberland. I have recently met Jim Mackey, the Chief Executive of Northumbria Healthcare, which operates A&E, and discussed the current situation and will continue to take up individual concerns and keep asking questions about the service which is available to my constituents.”

The Trust has said that its A&E departments are ‘experiencing unprecedented demands’ and is calling on the public to make sure services are available for those who are in real need.

A spokeswoman said: “Despite extremely high numbers of people attending A&E, we are pleased that we have met the national four-hour target for the last quarter .

“This is testament to the commitment and dedication of our staff who have worked extremely hard to treat patients as quickly as possible and we would like to thank every one of them for their tireless efforts.

“In the wake of intense pressures, our teams have cared for people with the utmost professionalism and been a credit to our organisation and the NHS.

“While our performance has dipped over the Christmas break due to the high volumes of people attending the department, we continue to strive to provide safe and high-quality care at all times and treat patients as quickly as possible.

“Like the rest of the country, we continue to see very high numbers of people attending our A&E departments and we would urge people only to come in if they have a serious health emergency.”

Nationally, waiting times are the worst they have been for a decade with 92.6 per cent of patients seen within four hours.