Infirmary misses wait time targets

Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

THE number of patients facing a wait of more than four hours for A&E treatment at the hospital trust which runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) has increased.

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBFT) missed a target of treating 95 per cent of patients across its three hospital sites within four hours during the 2011/12 financial year.

More than six per cent of patients faced a longer wait, with 93.95 per cent receiving treatment within the target time, according to a performance report, down from 96.55 per cent in 2010/11.

The figure was worse for the final quarter of the year, when 90.62 per cent of A&E patients were treated within four hours.

The last three months of the year also saw UHMBFT miss a target of treating inpatients within 23 weeks of referral, with a quarterly figure of 23.7 weeks.

It blames the need to deal with a backlog of patients waiting for treatment in the general surgery and trauma and orthopaedics divisions.

In February, the trust also missed a target of ensuring no more than 96 per cent of patients faced a wait greater than 31 days from the decision to treat cancer to treatment.

The March figure was still awaited as the Lancaster Guardian went to press, but the report says provisional figures showed the trust was likely to fail the quarterly target.

A “temporary lack of dermatology minor operations capacity” is blamed.

The target figures are based upon a measurement of how long the longest waiters have to wait.

There were also four cases of superbug MRSA identified in the last quarter of 2011/12 – taking the trust one above the annual target of three.

Figures specific to the RLI have yet to be provided by the trust.

The report says changes are being introduced at the RLI to help address delays in A&E waiting, including the admission of patients referred by GPs directly to the right clinical assessment unit, rather than via A&E.

A mobile unit has also been stationed outside the hospital to provide extra A&E capacity.

News of the missed targets follows a difficult 2011/12 at the troubled trust, including concerns over monitoring of emergency patients and under-staffing of A&E at the RLI, and deaths in the maternity unit at Furness General Hospital in Barrow. New bosses are now trying to turn the trust around.