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NHS Highland Board to hear about waiting target success

Issued: 30 May 2008

A Report due to be presented to NHS Highland Board on 2nd June 2008 highlights significant reductions in waiting times for patients attending A&E in Highland.

The Report summarises some of the work carried out across Highland as part of the National three year Unscheduled Care Collaborative Programme which concluded in March 2008. The National Programme was set up to ensure that 98% of patients who attend A&E are seen, treated and discharged or admitted within 4 Hours, by December 2007.

There are a total of 18 sites in Highland with A&E or minor injury facilities and around 90,000 patients are seen and treated. All sites are compliant and NHS Highland achieved (and has sustained) an overall Board position of 99% since March 2007.

The waiting times show an impressive turn around at the region's biggest Emergency Department at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness. In July 2006 86% of patients were seen within four hours. But since June of last year, the figure has only dropped below the target of 98% during August 07 and this was before the deadline had passed. Recent surveys also show that patients are very satisfied with the service.

Raigmore Hospital General Manager Susan Eddie said: "Reducing waiting times in A&E has involved support from the whole hospital with wards, departments, community colleagues and Ambulance Services playing their part in ensuring patients don't have to wait in A&E. We did a lot of work to understand when patients were arriving at the department and what was causing delays. "

She added: "To support ongoing improvements we have also recently appointed Richard Bennie to a new Post as Emergency Centre Manager at Raigmore Hospital. Richard comes with a track record of improving services for patients. Richard is supported by the Clinical Head of Service Consultant Gary Kerr."

Commenting on his new role, Richard said: "Reducing waiting times and keeping them low is complex. It is not as simple as changing one thing or putting in more staff. There are a range of intricately connected factors to consider that span the whole hospital, community services and indeed self care. I am delighted to have joined such an excellent clinical team who also have developed significant expertise in service improvement.

Chief Operating Officer Elaine Mead thanked staff across the Highlands: "I'm very pleased with our performance across all our 18 sites. Work will be ongoing to make sure our improvements are sustainable. I also want to highlight that a new target has been introduced to support a reduction in attendances across A&E sites by 2011. Part of this work will be to look at why patients are coming to A&E Departments and if their attendance could be avoided. This will be extremely challenging as many of the reasons why people come to hospital are outside the direct control of the NHS . We will be working with partners and communities to try to reduce unnecessary visits to A&E whether by ensuring people use other services or by reducing illness and injury."

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme