Amublances waited longest at Romford hospital in November rush

PATIENTS at Queen’s Hospital A&E spent longer waiting on ambulance trolleys before being moved to a bed than any hospital in London during the busiest week of last year, figures show.

More than 64 per cent of admissions were not seen by nurses within the recommended 15 minutes in the week ending November 7.

A hospital spokesman said the NHS across the country was “under considerable pressure” at the time due to high numbers of emergency admissions.

The second worst offender out of the capital’s 32 hospitals was King George Hospital, Goodmayes, where 60 per cent of patients faced delays.

King George A&E unit has been earmarked for closure.

The hospitals, run by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, were rated “red” by NHS London for their handover times.

All but Homerton Hospital, Hackney, east London, were also rated “red”, but both local hospitals had handover times four times greater than that recommended by the strategic health authority.

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A trust spokesman said: “Patients were forced to wait far longer than we would have liked while we treated people in order of clinical need to ensure the best possible levels of patient care.

“We work closely with London Ambulance Service to ensure that patients are admitted to the department as quickly as possible.

“However, with the rest of the NHS in the area also under pressure, they could not divert to other hospitals, and faced delays at Queen’s.

“We have recently introduced new processes at our A&E department and the situation has greatly improved over the past four months.”

It meant ambulances were being held up at the hospitals, Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham claimed.

“This demonstrates the pressure the hospitals are under – especially during the busy period before and after Christmas,” he said. “To consider reducing the A&E departments in the area is crazy. If anything, we should be increasing them. Ambulances were not being freed up for other emergencies, so there could have been a knock-on effect throughout the region.”

However a spokesman for Health for North East London (Health4Nel) - behind the restructure of the hospitals - said closing the A&E department at King George would improve the trust’s ability to cope with demand.

She said: “Concentrating emergency services at Queen’s would help reduce pressures on A&Es, improve staffing levels and ensure that seriously ill patients have quick access to life saving care from senior doctors 24/7. Strengthened urgent care services at all hospitals will provide care for people with less serious conditions, including a 24/7 urgent care centre at King George which would provide care for the majority of patients currently attending A&E.”

During the period the Recorder revealed there was a backlog of ambulances at the hospital and some paramedics claimed they waited more than 45 minutes with patients.

The figures were presented to NHS London’s professional leadership group in December.

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