Health chiefs have defended the efforts made to manage the recent pressures on A&E, which saw King’s Mill hospital struggling to meet performance targets.
Amanda Sullivan Chief officer for NHS Mansfield and Ashfield and Newark and Sherwood clinical commissioning groups, said the A&E crisis was ‘not just an NHS problem’.
She said: “There is no one reason why too many people end up in A&E so the solution is also a complex one which requires innovation and cooperation across a range of organisations.”
Like many hospitals across the country, higher than expected numbers of people attending the accident and emergency department at King’s Mill Hospital had led to increased waiting times and put extra pressure on all departments across the trust.
Additional doctors were drafted in to support the A&E department and consultants were carrying out extended ward rounds to ensure patients fit for home were identified as early as possible.
She said This had freed up vital space in the rest of the hospital for emergency admissions.
In addition to the measures, commissioners have been leading daily discussions with health and social care providers to identify further bed space both at the hospital and in the community.
Ms Sullivan said: “It’s well known hospital is not always the best place for every patient to be.
“For some elderly patients, going into a strange environment, can make matters like confusion worse.
“This can lead to increased hospital stays and reduced use of hospital beds.
“Providing care in the patient’s own home is one way to overcome this.”
She said there had been surprise that a relatively normal winter led to such an ‘all time’ low in waiting time performance.
Much discussion was happening nationally to understand why the pressure had risen so much.
She said: “We know people are living longer and survival after life threatening illness like heart attacks and cancer means people come with more complex medical needs.
“People with complex long term conditions such as respiratory disease, find winter a very challenging time and can become very unwell, very quickly.
This means we need the specialist doctors and nurses free to treat patients who need their expertise.”
Around half the children and a quarter of adults attending A&E during Christmas holiday period in 2013 were discharged the same day with just advice.
“We are constantly working with local media and through social media to help the public to understand the range of services available so they can choose the right service for them,” she said.
There was a recognition the system could be confusing at times.
She said a £1.2 million scheme would make improvements making it simpler for people to access urgent car services at King’s Mill and Newark hospitals by this summer.
She added: “Commissioners and the wider health and social care community are continuing to work hard right now to put in place a system that helps to join up services to that more people have support in place at home, or and be treated in a community setting that suits them to aid their recovery.
“The cooperation between different health providers we have seen in this latest ‘crisis’ is an example of the long term objectives of the Better Together programme - different organisations talking to each other on a daily basis for the benefit of a single patient.
“The changes we have seen staff make could not be sustainable without the cooperation of all health and social care providers so I wish to thank staff for their practical help and their resilience during what clearly has been a very challenging winter period.
“They have however demonstrated that the future aspirations we have for delivering a new, better system can work.“
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