Brighton & Hove patients happy with A&E – despite long waits

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Accident and emergency patients in Brighton are happy with their treatment despite long waits, hospital trust directors were told on May 29, writes Local Democracy Reporter Sarah Booker-Lewis.

Fewer than seven in ten patients were treated, admitted or discharged within the national target time of four hours last month at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

Other A&E patients treated by the trust that runs the Royal Sussex are seen more quickly on average, with the figure for the Sussex Eye Hospital close to 100 per cent.

The Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust board was told that across the organisation 84.4 per cent of patients were seen within the four-hour target.

This left performance slightly below the national average of 85.1 per cent – and significantly below the national target of 95 per cent of patients being treated, admitted or discharged within four hours.

A board report said: “The trust had 2,882 four-hour A&E breaches (in April) which was 573 (24.8 per cent) more than in the same month last year.”

Trust board chairman Alan McCarthy said that the average time to triage and the average time to treatment were “really good” as people were assessed for urgency of treatment within 15 minutes.

The trust’s chief medical officer George Findlay told the board that A&E had consultants working 24 hours a day seven days a week and patients were seen by a consultant within an hour.

He said: “It’s not a department that when it’s crowded is full of unassessed patients.

“What we have done is grow a system of care that recognises the constraints. There’s quick assessment and pain relief in 30 minutes.”

The board was told that patients who were in A&E longer than medics would like were regularly observed, fed and watered.

Dr Findlay said that he hoped the limits on the department would be eased once the new hospital building opened.

He said: “When you measure what patients say about the department, they are incredibly satisfied – more so than patients at other A&Es.”

Bedblocking is still a key issue, holding up admissions at the hospital.

Trust chief executive Dame Marianne Griffiths said that delays were really high and almost all beds were occupied.

She said that one of the biggest issues facing the hospital was discharging 30 complex cases a day, which was not happening efficiently enough.

Staff needed to be sure that patients with complex needs had the right care in place before releasing them from hospital.

Dame Marianne said that she had written to Brighton and Hove City Council about the problem and had spoken with the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

She said: “It is slightly out of our control but is fundamental to the flow in the organisation.

“We are seeing our lists growing when it comes to our discharges.”