Praise for way Whiston A&E is coping with winter crisis

Whiston Hospital is the busiest A&E in Merseyside but staff deserve credit for their professionalism
Whiston Hospital is the busiest A&E in Merseyside but staff deserve credit for their professionalism

Doctors and nurses at Whiston Hospital’s A&E department deserve huge credit for the way they have coped with the winter crisis, health chiefs say.

Hospitals across the country are struggling to meet a huge spike in patient numbers to casualty departments over the past few weeks.

Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham says the NHS is suffering because of draconian cuts by the Government.

But a Whiston Hospital spokeswoman said staff had demonstrated “exceptional professionalism” to manage high demand.

Official figures show, 2.328 people attended Whiston’s A&E in the last week in December, with 92.69 per cent seen within the four hour waiting limit.

While that is below the 95 per cent target, it still makes Whiston one of the best performing A&E units in the country.

A trust spokesperson said: “Whiston Hospital’s accident and emergency department remains the busiest on Merseyside, with a 25 per cent increase in attendances over the last four years.

“More than 105,000 patients are seen and treated each year in the department.

“Staff have responded to this increased pressure with exceptional professionalism and work incredibly hard throughout the hospital to manage the high demand, whilst continuing to provide high standards of care.”

Mr Burnham has called for the Government to hold an emergency summit to find ways to ease the pressure on struggling A&E departments.

The shadow health secretary published a letter yesterday accusing minister Jeremy Hunt of failing to anticipate the impact of cuts to social care budgets.

Mr Burnham, MP for Leigh, said reports of fire engines and police cars being used as ambulances in some areas of the country raised “major patient and public safety concerns.”

He wrote: “Given this, and also given the rapidly deteriorating position, I believe you should call an urgent summit, including representatives from local government, the police, fire and ambulance services, as well as emergency care and other NHS professionals, to assess the situation and put in place a co-ordinated plan to ensure patient safety and support the performance of A&E departments across England, and minimise any avoidable further major incidents being declared.”

Mr Burnham added elderly people were “trapped in hospital” due to social care cuts and difficulties getting GP appointments and staff shortages had contributed to the pressure on emergency departments.

Responding to hospital staff union claims the service was “on the brink of disaster”, the Prime Minister admitted the NHS is under “pressure” but dismissed it was close to breaking-point and accused Unison of “scaremongering”.

Latest NHS England figures showed just 92.6 per cent of patients were seen within four hours – notably below the 95 per cent target and a marked fall on the worst performance previously recorded since the Coalition came to power of 94.1 per cent at the start of 2013.

When broken down, the quarterly records show the country’s major A&E

departments fared even worse, with fewer than nine in 10 patients – 88.9 per cent – being seen within the target.

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