£1 million to turn around Doncaster hospital emergency department

Doncaster Royal Infirmary emergency department
Doncaster Royal Infirmary emergency department

Ministers have pledged almost £1 million to try to get a grip on waiting times at the accident and emergency department at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

They are set to put an extra £975,000 into the department to try to ease pressure on hospital emergency department ahead of next winter.

This money is part of the dedicated funding announced in the Government's spring budget to ensure A&Es can change the way they assess patients to make sure people are given the most appropriate care as quickly as possible.

David Purdue, chief operating officer at the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Trust, said: “We want to make sure that when patients arrive at the Emergency Department, they are seen by a trained medical professional and then signposted to be assessed and treated in the most appropriate setting, whether this is in the Emergency Department or in the GP-led Urgent Care Centre, both of which are at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

“These funds will be used to re-arrange the Emergency Department at Doncaster into a more practical layout improving and streamlining the service for the benefit of our patients.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The NHS prepares well in advance for winter each year, but despite the hard work and dedication of staff, demand on services continues to increase as a result of our ageing population.

“This vital investment will help the Doncaster Royal Infirmary A&E change the way they assess and see patients so people are given the most appropriate medical care as quickly as possible.”

The funding will be used to help the DRI properly equip itself ahead of winter, particularly to handle the large volumes of patients attending A&E. Hospitals will be able to ‘stream’ patients when they arrive in A&E, with a clinician assessing their needs and deciding where they can receive the most appropriate care.

It will also allow hospitals to build GP practices within their A&E units where patients with less urgent needs can receive treatment, further alleviating pressure.

The hospital is currently failing to meet the target of admitting, transferring or discharging 95% of patients within four hours.

The most recently published figures for the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Trust showed 91.40 per cent of patients seen within four hours, which was a rise on the lowest figure of the year, which was 84.96 per cent in January, and an improvement on April, which saw a figure of 90.37 per cent

Health bosses say medical workforce issues were the predominant cause of breaches in April, with a number of agency doctors withdrawing from planned shifts.

At DRI, 673 patients were delayed due to internal emergency department in April (156 more than March), 70 were delayed due to bed waits (56 less than March) and 151 patients were required to wait in the department due to their condition.

Chief operating officer Mr Purdue said: “Last year our Emergency Department was one of the best performing in the region, despite seeing increased attendance and hosting one of the busiest services in the country. Staffing issues, as within the wider NHS, remains a national problem, and despite being fortunate to have a talented core team working within our Emergency Departments at particularly busy periods for example the Easter break in March, we rely on additional staffing support from locums, who are in high demand in emergency departments across the country.