MP blames Government for hospital and ambulance delays

King's Mill Hospital
King's Mill Hospital

Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero says patients are being made to suffer because of the Government’s failure to get a grip on the NHS.

The latest statistics published by the NHS show that local hospitals are not meeting all of the national targets for treating cancer patients; that ambulances are not getting to emergencies involving seriously ill patients within target times and that hospital beds are being blocked because of hold-ups in discharging patients.

Cancer waiting time data for January 2017 shows that: 93 per cent of patients being treated at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust receive their first treatment following diagnosis for cancer within 31 days – missing the 96 per cent target.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS (NUH) Trust met the target.

However 72 per cent of patients at NUH began their first definitive treatment for cancer following urgent GP referral for suspected cancer in the 62 day limit – missing the 85 per cent target by some way, though Sherwood Forest Hospitals did meet the target and treated 85 per cent of patients within 62 days.

East Midlands Ambulance Service continues to struggle to meet the target for responding to life-threatening emergencies.

In January just 65 per cent of Red 1 calls in the region saw an emergency response team arriving at the scene of an incident within eight minutes, missing the 75 per cent target.

Hundreds of days of hospital care are also being lost because of delayed transfers and discharges.

Reasons for this include a lack of beds on more suitable wards or because care packages for care at home are not in place.

In January 2017, Sherwood Forest Hospitals had 843 delayed days, up from 772 in the same month last year.

Nottingham University Hospitals had 1,356 delayed days, though this was down from 1,812 in January 2016.

The MP said: “Theresa May has lost control of the NHS this winter and patients are paying the price as target after target is missed.

“Thousands more people are waiting for treatment, people are stuck in hospitals even when they’re well enough to go home, and key standards on cancer care and ambulance response times are being missed.”

“Behind each of these statistics is a patient suffering and in unacceptable discomfort.

“The Government has failed the NHS right across the board and urgent action is needed to put things right.”

Sherwood Forest Hospitals Chief Operating Officer Roz Howie said: “There are nine national standards for patients waiting to begin cancer treatment. In January three out of six patients who did not achieve the 31 day referral to treatment standard chose to delay their appointments for a limited period. Had these patients not chosen to wait we would have achieved the standard.

“As far as delayed discharges from hospital are concerned, the number of people using our hospitals continues to rise, as they do nationally, and teams throughout the Trust have coped well during an extremely busy winter. Despite this, we are one of the top-performing Trusts for the four hour standard – treating and discharging or admitting 95% of urgent attendances within four hours – which is a reflection of how well we are managing patient flow through our hospitals and the wider healthcare community. We work closely with our community-based NHS and social care colleagues to ensure patients are able to leave hospital as soon as they are ready to do so and, where needed, that appropriate and safe levels of support are in place.”

Greg Cox, Paramedic and General Manager for Nottinghamshire at EMAS said: “Patients are our priority and it is important to recognise that the majority of people calling 999 for help are getting a fast, quality response. In February we reached 78% of the most seriously ill patients (red 1) within 9 minutes*. We continue to improve services, to proactively recruit to our frontline and invest in new ambulances to expand our fleet. ”

Caroline Shaw, Chief Operating Officer for Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We know there are areas where improvements are needed and extensive work is underway to do so. This includes collaboration with the Emergency Care Improvement Programme (ECIP), who are supporting Nottinghamshire health and social care organisations to deliver the necessary system-wide changes that will further improve 4 hour performance.

“In cancer care NUH is one of the largest centres in the country dealing with some of the most complex, specialist and investigations for cancer patients which can take longer to plan and deliver. To help reduce this we are working with partner hospitals to improve the timeliness of referrals and we have increased the capacity of our scanners and clinics to speed up decisions about treatment, and streamlining patient’s progress in our services.

“It is also important to recognise the hard work of staff during what has been a difficult winter for hospitals across the UK, including NUH. NUH continues to perform strongly in many areas including patient safety, 18 week waits once patients are referred by their GP for hospital treatment and patient experience scores in terms of friends and family test for inpatients and Emergency Department patients.”