The national target set for patients to be seen in four hours within arrival at A & E departments is 95%. Our Trust – the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust (EKHUFT) which serves East Kent – was ranked 110 of 131 trusts for patients being seen in 4 hours in Jan 2019, according to data released by the NHS. Only two trusts in the UK met the 95% target to put matters into perspective.
The last time EKHUFT hit the target for seeing 95% of patients within four hours at A & E was Sept 2014.
When one scrutinises the data more closely, one see’s that the QEQM in Margate sees approximately 75% of all patients in 4 hours. This of course means that 1 in 4 four patients approximately do not get seen within the 4 hour target window according to the data.
The data for the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford show that patients visiting A & E are higher than the QEQM and that on three occasions, Apr 18, Sept 18 and Jan 19 approximately 66% of patients were NOT seen within 4 hours. This means at times 1 in 3 patients approximately were not seen within the 4 hour target window, according to the data.
The data demonstrates that on average 75% patients who visit either A & E get seen within 4 hours. The data also shows that across time the burden on the NHS is growing. It also demonstrates that our two A & Es are not always fully staffed.
The 2018/19 expenditure budgets for the two A & E’s are:
QEQM – £7,674,000
WHH – £8, 527,000
So the average cost for treating a single patient who arrives in A & E, between Apr – Dec 2018, at the QEQM is £92.75.
For the WHH over the same period of time the average cost is £122.75.
With more development set for the whole of East Kent the pressure on our A & E’s is only likely to grow. There is a possibility that both A & E’s could close and one large one be opened up at a new Hospital, which might be built in Canterbury. Will such a plan reduce numbers coming to A & E? Probably not as development will mean more people coming into East Kent.
Surely the wisest idea would be to put the infrastructure in place before developers build and sell any new homes. However, that looks more and more unlikely, as this would potentially mean borrowing more, or raising taxes which no government under the current paradigm of neo-liberal economics likes to do.
Are we now at a time where we charge patients for using NHS Services, according to their level of income? There are no easy solutions and any solution will be unpalatable to some, if not many of us who have grown up with an NHS free at the point of delivery.
Our A & E’s in East Kent have not met their targets for the last four and half years. This we believe will not change as the data and the projected targets demonstrate that being seen within fours at A & E in East Kent will not be met.
Change is inevitable, but what that change will look like is unknown. However, we know the change to EKHUFT is in the hands of Susan Acott (pictured), who is the Chief Executive of EKHUFT and joined as Interim Chief Executive in October 2017 on secondment from Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust where she was Chief Executive since 2010. She was appointed as the Trust’s permanent Chief Executive in March 2018. In Jan 2019 the Care Quality Commission made it clear EKHUFT requires improvement
While Susan was Chief Exec of Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, it required improvement according to the Care Quality Commission. That is still the case according to the latest report released by the CQC.
We fear that any change that may happen to our Trust and to our A & Es in East Kent will not be sufficient, as those that lead it have only led organisations which require improvement over the last 9 years. We hope we are wrong. We hope that our A & E’s do improve and meet their targets, but we’ll let you the users of A & E be the judge of that.
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful