Figures released by NHS England yesterday show that for 14 weeks in a row the hospitals have bettered the target to treat or admit 95% of patients in A&E within 4 hours.
That’s a big change from earlier this year and the end of last, when a shortage of doctors meant the target was missed for month after month, incurring costly penalties for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, which manages both St James and the Leeds General Infirmary.
From the latest figures issued by the Trust at the end of July, it appears that a “recovery plan” introduced to sort out the A&E problems has borne fruit – even at the unit at “Jimmy’s”, which was seriously under-performing against the target earlier this year.
Figures for the two hospitals are now back up to – and even better than – where they were this time last year.
It’s summer, of course, and doctors have been warning of an A&E crisis this winter, prompting the government to pump £500m over two years into those NHS trusts that have been struggling the most with urgent care.
(I don’t know if it’s been decided yet whether Leeds will be among the hospital trusts receiving part of that extra cash)
In the meantime the latest above-target performance isn’t just good news for patients. It’s good news for the Trust, who need more money in the bank to apply for foundation trust status. That they haven’t had that cash has in part been down to penalties incurred for failing to meet the A&E waiting times target.
Increased attendance to blame? Erm …
How far is it that more of us going more often to A&E is to blame for the failure to meet the targets.
In the case of Leeds it’s difficult to say.
According to the NHS England figures, attendance at A&E has remained pretty constant over the two years for the months covered in the graph below. It’s a partial picture, but total numbers are actually slightly down this year on last.
And in the week when the highest number of people turned up to be treated (4,243 in the middle of July this year), 96.4% of them were admitted or discharged in under four hours.