A&E waiting time targets missed every month for a year

John Radcliffe Hospital Image copyright Bill Nicholls
Image caption A lack of hospital beds and social care means a backlog of patients at A&E departments

Accident and emergency departments in Oxfordshire's biggest hospitals have missed waiting time targets every month for a year, a new report has revealed.

July 2015 was the last time Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust met the national target of 95% of patients being treated within four hours.

More investment was needed to provide extra hospital beds and social care, the Patients Association insisted.

The county's clinical commissioning group said the situation was improving.

Lack of capacity

Dr Joe McManners, clinical chair of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), said the figures revealed a "lack of capacity" in community and social care.

He said: "One of the major reasons for the missed targets is people are stuck in A&E who need to move into a hospital bed or further care.

"We have managed to reduce the number of people stuck in hospital by, for example, commissioning more care from nursing homes. But there is still a backlog."

'My husband waited five hours'

Laura Potter from Banbury told BBC Radio Oxford about the five-hour wait her husband endured at the Horton Hospital A&E earlier this year following a motorbike crash.

"For an actual accident, I thought he would be seen immediately.

"It was frustrating because the majority of people in there didn't seem to be in an emergency state.

"The lack of urgency and actual interest didn't seem to be there. There was no apology and lots of confusion. It took an hour for staff to decide if his leg was broken or not.

"We went back again a couple of weeks later when he was in excruciating pain, but was told there was another five-hour wait.

"We called the John Radcliff Hospital in Oxford to see if he could be seen faster there and they said their situation was not much better."

The report from OCCG showed in the year to May 2016, only 87.3% of patients were seen within four hours. In the worst month - February - 22.4% of people attending A&E had to wait longer than four hours.

Victoria Couling, the Royal College of Nursing's senior officer for Oxfordshire, said there was a problem with patients coming to A&E when more appropriate care could be provided elsewhere, from the likes of GPs and pharmacies.

But Liz McAnulty from the Patients Association said this was a "miniscule" percentage of people coming to A&E.

"We're all living longer and this ageing population needs extra care and treatment," she said.

"But funding for NHS and social services is dwindling. We need far more than what the government is providing to meet the growing need.

"We are hearing from patients all the time who are waiting for more than four hours. The reality is that people in trauma are not being seen quickly enough."

The OCCG report said there had been an improvement in the performance of A&E departments and an "action plan has been developed and implemented to support four-hour standard delivery to improve patient flow".

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