Scores waiting four hours or more at A&E

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The number of people waiting at least four hours in the A&E department at University hospital in Coventry has more than doubled in the past year.

The Department of Health statistics, released earlier this month, reveal that in the first quarter of 2012/13, 804 out of 44,541 patients had to wait four hours or more.

By the end of the last quarter of last year the figure had risen to 1,728, despite the number of patients falling to 42,683. The A&E department is the only one that serves Rugby.

Lisa Rudman, a mother from Rugby, was told by staff at University Hospital that it would take four and half hours for A&E staff to see her daughter after she broke her wrist earlier this year.

She said: “We travelled to the Children’s A&E department where we were shocked to find a tiny little room that is supposed to service every child in Rugby and Coventry.

“My daughter was in pain and crying, with no seat in a sub-zero room. I was told we’d have to wait four and half hours.”

Eventually Mrs Rudman travelled to St Cross, where her daughter was treated and sent home within an hour.

She added: “Staff at St Cross couldn’t have been more helpful.”

University Hospital has also had to cancel many non-urgent appointments and operations this year due to excessive demand.

David Eltringham, chief operating officer of the trust that runs the hospital, said: “Like many other acute NHS hospitals in the West Midlands we are experiencing a high demand for emergency beds. To cope with these pressures all non-urgent appointments and operations are being reviewed, but those who will be affected will be contacted.

“The trust has asked for support from the NHS Emergency Care Intensive Support Team in order to deal with these pressures. They and other partners have been working with the trust since the autumn of 2012 to support us in our endeavour to improve performance against the four hour target.

“Attending A&E or calling 999 should be used in a critical or life-threatening situations.

“If you aren’t sure and need help or advice call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.”