Watford General Hospital not meeting A&E waiting time guidelines ‘totally unacceptable’

Campaigners are launching a judicial review calling for a new hospital central to St Albans, Watford

Campaigners are launching a judicial review calling for a new hospital central to St Albans, Watford and Dacorum, rather than renovating services at Watford General. Picture: Danny Loo. - Credit: Archant

Too many patients are having to endure lengthy waiting times at A&E at Watford General Hospital, according to the latest data.

National guidelines dictate that 95 per cent of all patients should be admitted, discharged or transferred within four hours of arrival at A&E.

However the latest data shows that in May just 79.9 per cent of patients were treated within the target time at Watford - meaning one in five patients were there for more than four hours. Taking data from April into account, the percentage of patients being treated within four hours was slightly higher, at 80.5 per cent.

The report also notes the decline in A&E performance at Watford General since the same time last year, when it was running at 86.1 per cent.

The data was presented to a meeting of the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group's (HVCCG) board at the end of last month. After the meeting, an HVCCG spokesperson pointed to the 7.6 per cent increase in the number of patients arriving at A&E in April and September compared to the same time last year - meaning an additional 3,729 patients.

The spokesperson said: "Behind the figures it's important to note that hospital staff work very hard to ensure the safety and comfort of patients.

"Patients are assessed on arrival so that, if needed, they receive antibiotics, fluids and pain relief within a few minutes of arrival by ambulance and are clinically assessed and prioritised so that those with the most serious conditions are seen soonest."

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The CCG is now monitoring waiting times at A&E several times a day, and are working closely with West Herts Hospitals Trust to reduce the wait.

New hospital campaigner Andy Love said: "Watford General not meeting the A&E national guidelines is totally unacceptable, and the figures probably don't include those who decided not to wait having been made aware of the waiting time.

"With 150,000 residents expected to move into the west Herts catchment area over the next 10 to 15 years, it only highlights the need for more capacity at our only A&E hospital, and only a new build in a more central west Herts locaton will adequately provide for this.

"The doctors and nurses must feel very stressed having to cope in such circumstances."