Queen’s and King George hospitals ‘pulling out all the stops’ to avoid major incident

Ambulances outside Queen's Hospital's A&E (Picture: Sandra Rowse)

Ambulances outside Queen's Hospital's A&E (Picture: Sandra Rowse) - Credit: Archant

Staff at King George’s hospital are “pulling out all the stops” to maintain A&E services as the trust approaches its third week on the cusp of declaring a major incident.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust (BHRUT), which runs Queen’s Hospital and King George Hospital in Goodmayes, announced a significant internal event (SIE), one level below a major incident, on December 28 and has remained on the alert since.

Across the country 15 trusts have already succumbed to a nationwide spike in demand for A&E services, resorting to closing services or treating patients in tents in hospital grounds.

A major incident will be declared if the hospitals do not have enough resources to cope with the demand and it will have to turn away all non-emergency cases.

Waiting times in the emergency departments of BHRUT’s hospitals have had their worst quarter since targets were first introduced in 2004 with almost one in four (23.3 per cent) people not being seen within four hours.

BHRUT’s chief operating officer, Sarah Tedford, said: “The sheer numbers we are seeing means that some people are having to wait far longer than we would like in our emergency departments.

“It is vital that we see people in order of their clinical need so we ensure the most vulnerable patients are treated first.

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“Our priority is always the safety of our patients and our staff are working tirelessly to make sure that people receive the care they need.”

Over the last four weeks 5,523 patients have been treated in the King George Hospital emergency department, which is a rise of 11pc on the same period last year and, as detailed in the graph to the right, 12pc more people are having to wait longer than four hours.

The Redbridge Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, cllr Wes Streeting, said: “This isn’t just a local problem – the picture in A&E departments is the worst quarter of A&E performance since records began.

“This is a national problem which we are experiencing acutely in Redbridge.”

Cllr Streeting added: “We want to do everything we can working with GPs to encourage people wherever possible to go to their GP or pharmacist when they don’t require A&E treatment.

“But the reality is when people are unwell and they are not sure what is wrong they may be worried and not know if it is urgent or not.”