New Queen Elizabeth University Hospital fails to achieve A&E target

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and The Royal Hospital for sick Kids
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and The Royal Hospital for sick Kids

Scotland’s new flagship hospital has failed to achieve its accident and emergency waiting time target.

The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow, which cost £842 million to build, has dropped well below the Scottish Government’s interim target of 95 per cent of people being dealt with in four hours, according to the latest weekly figures.

Only 77.2 per cent of people were seen and either admitted, transferred or discharged within that time in the week ending October 4, the worst performing site in Scotland.

A total of 386 patients waited for longer than four hours, with 29 of these in A&E for more than eight hours.

It is the poorest the hospital has performed against the target since it was opened in May by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC).

Hospital director Anne Harkness said: “Our Emergency Department (ED) and Immediate Assessment Unit (IAU) were both extremely busy last week and we apologise to those patients who had a long wait to be admitted.

“After a number of weeks where the A&E performance at the QEUH had shown a sustained improvement, these latest figures are particularly disappointing.

“Our analysis for this most recent performance has shown that the new model of care within our IAU has been seeing significantly more patients than was projected. Elsewhere patients are also spending longer in hospital than we had anticipated.

“We are fully committed to tackling these issues and are putting in place a number of immediate steps to improve the situation.

“Additional capacity will be created within the IAU to tackle the bottlenecks by identifying an alternative location for surgical and urological patients coming through that unit.

“We will also continue to work with staff to streamline all other clinical processes in particular early supported discharge.

“Our staff are working hard to ensure patients attending the emergency department are admitted to a bed or discharged within four hours.

“We are confident that these measures will see us return to an improved performance.”

In June the Scottish Government announced a team of experts would be sent in to help staff improve A&E waiting times at the site.

Performance rose markedly as a result, with the hospital hitting a rate of more than 90 per cent since the end of July.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “It is clear improvements are needed at QEUH to further increase capacity and drive down waiting times, patients should expect nothing less.

“The opening of the QEUH involved moving three existing hospitals onto one site and was one of the biggest and most complex of its kind in Europe.

“Following the opening of the QEUH the Scottish Government committed £5m to support improvement across NHSGGC to relieve pressure at the front door of the hospital.

“A performance support team was also on site at the new hospital for a two week period in June, and while performance improved, it has not been at the sustained level required.

“It is clear that more needs to be done especially as we head towards winter which brings extra pressures that affect performance.”