It’s relatively well understood amongst medical staff that a patient suffering from a dangerous injury or affliction will have a better chance of recovery, or avoiding long term complications, if they are seen promptly by an appropriately experienced medical professional.
Patients reliant upon Colchester General Hospital in Essex then will be disheartened by the news that June 2015 saw the institution post the highest average waiting times for 999 patients being transferred from ambulances to the emergency department of the Essex’s five NHS Trusts. The hospital’s poor record in regard to this problem is now prompting concerns that patients delayed in admission to hospital could be at risk of late diagnosis or treatment, potentially providing grounds for some patients to seek medical negligence compensation.
Records show that ambulance crew handovers of more than 30 minutes totaled more than 125 hours during June, and there were 67 instances where patients waited more than an hour to be transported to hospital. Current national guidelines recommend that patients should be transferred to hospital within 15 minutes of arriving at A&E, highlighting the fact that current care standards at Colchester General can be seen to be falling well below reasonable expectations, and possibly opening the door for clinical negligence compensation claims to be launched against the Trust.
Hospital management are thought to be in the process of devising new strategies to tackle growing waiting times, including a system whereby patients could be diverted to a less crowded hospital, without the need for excessive communication, should Colchester Hospital staff feel overwhelmed. A pilot scheme is scheduled to begin that could see patients diverted to Ipswich, 22 miles away, or Broomfield in Chelmsford, 25 miles away. Some remain unconvinced however that sending patients further away to a different hospital could really have a positive impact on patient waiting periods.
Commenting on this latest news, Jason Brady, specialist clinical negligence solicitor at Blackwater Law solicitors in Essex, said:
“The initial period following an accident, or the onset of illness can be very important. It is important that during this period the patient is provided with the correct standard of care. Delays in diagnosis or treatment at this time can have an impact on a patient’s health. These latest figures regarding delays in transferring patients to the emergency department at Colchester General Hospital are concerning to say the least.”
It is perhaps unsurprising that the hospital is beginning to struggle in light of the fact that the 2015 April-June period saw a rise in the number of people being admitted to the emergency department for treatment of around 9.7%, compared to the same period in 2014. This comes against a backdrop of daily patient admissions at the hospital’s A&E department growing every month in 2015, from a daily average of 187 in January to around 232 in June.
A spokesman for the hospital was keen to point out that improvements in ambulance handover times have been made since January 2015, when 485 handovers took more than 30 minutes and 311 took more than an hour. This remains small comfort however to those who feel they have been put at risk of medical negligence.
Advice from specialist clinical negligence solicitors
If you or a loved one believe you have suffered clinical negligence at Colchester Hospital, or any other medical facility, contact the specialists at Blackwater Law medical negligence solicitors today.