A&E visits rise at Northampton General Hospital

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Almost 100,000 people will visit Northampton General Hospital’s A&E in just 12 months, bosses predict, as admissions continue to increase.

A special report to the hospital board showed the continued influx of emergency patients would reach 98,270 by the end of the financial year in April, a rise of five per cent on the previous year.

And patients actually being taken in has also soared. Between April 2012 and the end of January there were 680 more emergency patients admitted than the previous year, a 2.9 per cent increase.

The rise in patients has forced NGH into the expense of opening more recovery beds, both on site and at Cliftonville Care Home, as well as cancelled surgeries.

Christine Allen, the deputy chief executive, said: “This additional capacity has increased the pressure on the ward nursing teams and temporary staffing has been utilised to backfill staff moved to cover these additional areas.

“Additional consequences for the trust have included cancellation of patients on the day or at short notice, due to the need to care for increased non-elective patients.”

As well as staff pressure and inconvenience for patients, the hospital will be hit financially. For example, money forecast for planned operations is not being realised because of cancellations.

The NHS has also revealed it plans to fine hospitals for keeping ambulance crews waiting to hand over patients, another consequence of crowded A&E departments.

NGH’s latest average hand-over time has risen to 17 minutes, two minutes longer than the target. The hospital is bearing the brunt of a problem that it, and the whole of the NHS, has been trying to solve with dozens of specific schemes since 2010.

However, decisions by some patients are not helping. The latest survey of Northamptonshire A&E patients showed about a fifth could have gone to their GP instead.

Mrs Allen said: “Turning this around is a major piece of work but it’s a real priority.”