‘No easy fix’ as hospital waiting times reach an all time high

editorial image

The number of patients stuck waiting 12 hours in Ayr Hospital’s A&E unit has reached record highs. 

A total of 100 people waited for 12 hours in the town’s emergency department in August which is three a day on average.

Seventy one folk were held up for that length of time in July. 

The NHS  system is under “incredible” pressure with staff working flat out to meet  increasing demand from patients, a meeting heard. 

A report presented to the NHS Ayrshire & Arran board said: “The numbers of 12 hour waits at emergency departments has increased significantly in recent months, reaching the highest recorded position over the past three years” in August 2019.

Ayr hospital is facing greater demand from the public.

A total of 3,585 people turned up at its emergency department in August – up six per cent compared to last year. 

The target of 95 per cent of people being dealt with within four hours at the department has not been achieved during any of the last 12 months.

Eighty per cent of people were treated, admitted or discharged within four hours – short of the target. 

The figures were presented to the NHS Ayrshire & Arran board meeting on Monday. 

Board member Linda Semple said: “We know the system is under incredible pressure.”

She added: “We know staff are knocking their pans in to fix it as best we can.”

NHS Ayrshire & Arran chief executive John Burns said: “We know Ayrshire has a level of demand for its services. I don’t know if there is an easy fix for that.”

A “detail and focused improvement plan” with a number of actions is being rolled out to get rid of 12 hour waits.

Bosses blame delayed discharges from hospital caused by lack of places available in the community for blocking beds for A&E patients.

The number of people delayed in hospital beds for more than two weeks because of a non medical reason has never been higher recently.

Beds were blocked for for 5,086 days in July – up by 62 per cent.

Ninety five people had a delayed discharge of 14 days or higher that month at NHS Ayrshire & Arran hospitals – which was a record high.

Fifty one of them were South Ayrshire health and social care partnership patients while 44 were from North Ayrshire. Zero patients in East Ayrshire were delayed in beds for more than 14 days.

A report presented to the board said: “The number of NHS Ayrshire & Arran patients who were delayed in their discharge from hospital for longer than two weeks reached its highest ever recorded position of 95 in July 2019.

“This, combined with increased levels of ED attendances, continue to impact on compliance against the Emergency Department four hour standard. “Restricted flow into acute hospital beds has resulted in the numbers of patients waiting over 12 hours in emergency departments increasing exponentially in recent months.”