Shropshire health chiefs summoned to NHS crisis meeting over A&E concerns
Shropshire health chiefs are to meet the head of the NHS over concerns that the county's A&E performance is among the worst in the country.
Representatives from Shropshire's health groups, including Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust (SATH), and Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), have been asked to attend the meeting in London next week.
The meeting has been called for the trusts with the worst performance against national A&E targets.
It comes as Shropshire CCG also confirmed that the organisations had attended a "regional escalation meeting" with NHS England over concerns at the poor performance of the A&E departments at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital Telford, against government targets.
Speaking at a board meeting of Shropshire CCG today, Dr Julie Davies, director of performance and delivery with the group said: "Recently we have been subject to a regional escalation meeting where the performance was one of the lowest in the country."
She said the most significant problem preventing improvement on the targets was a lack of staff.
She said: "We continue to have challenges on the flow within hospital but notwithstanding that, the most significant issue for the trust is staff and that was acknowledged and discussed at the escalation meeting."
Mrs Davies said attempts to alleviate the pressure on SATH's consultants had failed.
The trust had wanted to share consultants with other nearby hospitals but their efforts have been rejected.
She said: "The issue is the trust has tried to go out for joint appointments for consultants with other local providers but that has been unsuccessful."
She added: They are going to see if there is anything that can be done to persuade other providers to share consultant with a struggling hospital."
Mrs Davies said SATH is "not unique" in facing the problem, a comment echoed by CCG board member Dr Ed Rysdale, who said neighbouring hospital trusts are under similar pressure.
She also explained that the hospitals had faced difficulties because their allocation of doctors was reduced with only three days notice.
She said: "Their allocation of doctors was less than they had been led to believe and they only had three days notice so that makes it very difficult to compensate for or plan for."
Debbie Kadum, chief operating officer at SATH admitted the trust is facing difficulties but said staff are focussed on providing the best care possible.
She said: “It is no secret that our emergency departments are under pressure. In addition to increasing patient numbers, this is due mainly to an insufficient number of consultants and middle grade doctors in our EDs. It is for this very reason that we are looking at how we deliver emergency services in the county, through the NHS Future Fit process, to ensure we can provide the best care possible for the people of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales.
“In August, we saw almost 10,500 people in our EDs – that is an average of more than 330 people every day. More than three out of four of those patients were seen and treated, admitted or discharged within four hours. We are working with our partners in health and social care to improve this figure, but our first priority is to ensure that those attending our EDs receive the appropriate care.”