Waiting times at A&E were at their worst for many years over New Year period, the latest NHS figures show.

Huddersfield and Calderdale medics suffered one of their lowest scores ever for seeing patients within four hours.

During the week ending January 4 only 84.5% of people attending were seen within four hours – more than 10% below the NHS target.

Figures show 164 patients waited between four and 12 hours across the week – almost 24 per day.

But the lengthy waits were not down to a surge of patients as far more turned up during the first three weeks of December.

Patient numbers December 8-14

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust

 

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust has admitted the New Year period performance was the “worst for some time” but said it was not the worst ever.

Director of Operations at the trust, Mags Barnaby, said the struggle was not due to patient volumes but because people were more unwell.

She said: “There hasn’t been a significant increase in the number of attendees and neither have we seen particularly higher than usual numbers of people attending inappropriately.  

“The challenges this year, as across the country, are due to the high numbers of very poorly and frail patients who need longer stays with us.

“This has particularly been the case during December and January.

“Higher hospital bed occupancy can at times create delays for new admissions to hospital.

“We are working closely with health care partners to improve the discharge process for the patients who are fit to leave us to free up beds at this very difficult time.”

84.5

Percentage of patients seen within NHS target time of four hours

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust

 

The busiest week this winter was the week ending December 14 when there were 2,940 patients, 342 more than the same week in 2013.

But the peak period for patients in A&E across the whole of 2014 was the three months from March to May.

The week of May 11 was the busiest with 2,917 patients but overall 36,798 patients came through the doors – more than 3,000 more than the winter quarter of 2014 (Jan - Mar).

Overall growth in A&E attendance in 2014 was less than 3% at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital.

Figures show a total of 3,149 more patients attended the two emergency departments last year than in 2013 – 95% of which were in the spring period.

A new patient came through the doors at A&E wards in Huddersfield and Calderdale in 2014 every four minutes.

While the hospitals did miss the NHS’s four hour waiting target on a couple of occasions they managed to maintain the overall target for all of 2013 and most of 2014.

But the hospital trust finally dropped two points below the target during the final three months of last year despite meeting the target during the busiest period, March to May of 2014.

The trust has declined to comment on whether staff shortages have affected the figures.

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