Christmas has come early for hard-working A&E staff who are gearing up with their plans to spend a £1m windfall announced yesterday by the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt MP.
The money – given for improvements to be made ahead of this winter – is the second reason for celebration at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
The emergency team is currently enjoying praise from regulators, Trust bosses and local politicians for its impressive turnaround in waiting times for emergency patients. And with money for improvements to withstand the pressures that winter brings, there is a real spring in the step of staff whose roles are among the hardest in the NHS.
Trust chairman, Professor Steve Barnett, said: “I have never doubted the commitment of this fantastic team, but our performance has not always been where we wanted in terms of waiting times for our patients. The Board has been taking a close interest in the steady improvement and we have been delighted to see that, month by month, the care and efforts of our staff are resulting in a better experience for our patients. I am immensely proud of our staff and grateful to our partners in the NHS and local authorities who have supported our drive to reduce our emergency waiting times.”
Chief executive Katie Fisher added: “What a team! I am humbled by their hard work and continued openness to new ways of working. We saw unprecedented activity last winter which makes this success all the more impressive. Instead of taking their foot off the pedal, they have pushed on in the interests of our patients and with new funding on its way, I am confident that this coming winter will be a little easier.”
Dr Tammy Angel, divisional director for unscheduled care, said: “Earlier this year we were struggling to meet the four hour A&E target* which often left us in the bottom 10% of 138 hospital trusts. The reputational issues are one thing, but for me, the concern was the experience of our patients who were waiting on trolleys or having an extended stay in our busy emergency department when they should have been on a ward.
“Now, we’re hovering around the top 10% in the country which is remarkable. Figures last week placed us 14th out of 138 hospital trusts. This is great news for patients and a fantastic way to show how our hard work is paying off.
“Our success isn’t a surprise, it’s the result of fresh ideas, determination, commitment, care, improved morale and support from partner organisations. But the biggest single factor is our staff – we haven’t recruited a raft of new starters – our homegrown heroes have helped us achieve this.”