Leighton Hospital A&E patients

Thousands of patients were left waiting to be seen for more than four hours at Leighton Hospital’s A&E this winter.

Figures released by the Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust board of directors show patients were left waiting for more than four hours on 4,931 occasions in December, January and February.

Those numbers have more than doubled since last year’s figures, when patients faced the same wait on 2,246 occasions in December 2016, January 2017 and February 2017.

Mark Oldham, director of finance at the trust, said: “Our Achilles heel is A&E and the four-hour standard.

“That continues to be a challenge for us and has been particularly difficult throughout the winter period.

“The figures are nationally in line [with other hospitals], however we would have been better than the national average.”

In January, the trust announced it was dealing with its highest number of ambulance calls, A&E attendances and emergency admissions in its history.

A month earlier, in Leighton Hospital’s busiest winter month, less than a quarter of patients were seen to within four hours at A&E.

Directors were told that the figures for March were expected to be an improvement over the winter months.

Trust chairman Dennis Dunn MBE said: “This is not about us being poor at doing something – it is about an exceptional growth in A&E admittance.

“We can now see ambulance figures starting to come down which will improve our performance.”

David Hopewell, senior independent director, added: “It’s about patient experience – do people receive care in an appropriate timescale?

“There is no harm that can be done for some people to be sat there for more than four hours, and I think that should be taken into consideration.”

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