Accident and emergency departments at Lincolnshire’s hospitals failed to meet government targets for seeing patients within four hours, NHS England statistics have revealed.
Figures for February show 81.1% of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged from Lincolnshire’s A&E departments within four hours of arrival – well below the 95% target.
Nationally, the picture was little better, with 87.8% of patients being seen within the four hour target.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust also reported an increase of 10% in A&E admissions in March 2016 compared to the same time the previous year.
However, unlike the national position, emergency admissions have reduced by nearly 1.5% in Lincolnshire.
This is equivalent to approximately 900 less people being admitted to hospital in 2015-16 compared against 2014-15.
Mark Brassington, Chief Operating Officer at ULHT, said: “Over the last few months, our A&Es have been very busy. When we are busy unfortunately we can’t always see and treat people within four hours.
“We do prioritise so that the sickest patients are seen and assessed quickly.
“Both health and social services across Lincolnshire are very busy and we are working together to ensure our patients are discharged in a timely manner which helps us to free up beds for urgent and planned care patients.
“Freeing up beds on the wards has a direct impact on how long patients wait in A&E. We ask people to only attend A&E with serious or life threatening illnesses and to seek alternative support for on-going problems or minor injuries.
“Those who attend with minor conditions will still be treated, but potentially will have long waits. We urge everyone to think twice before they go to A&E – if it’s not serious or life threatening, you shouldn’t be there.
“Many illnesses can be better treated by visiting your local pharmacy, calling 111, visiting your local GP, or GP out of hours services, or attending a walk in centre or a minor injuries unit.”
Richard Barker, interim national director of commissioning operations and information at NHS England, said A&E was “now seeing the effects of the delayed flu spike which peaked in February and March this year compared with pre-Christmas last winter.
“This was compounded by social care-related delayed hospital discharges, which are up by 40% compared with the same month last year.”
He added: “Despite these pressures, for the year as a whole more than nine out of 10 patients have been admitted, treated or discharged in under four hours, while long trolley waits have halved compared with last year.”
Dr Jennifer Dixon, chief executive of the Health Foundation, said: “The root cause of deteriorating performance is an unprecedented slowdown in funding for the NHS – now half-way through the most austere decade of funding growth since records began in 1948 – and severe cuts to social care, impacting specifically older people.
“Providers are struggling to accommodate this slowdown because of the sheer pace and scale of changes required. Today’s performance figures, while worrying, are entirely predictable.”