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Shorter waiting times and planned expansion for emergency patients

Posted: 16 June 2017
Jodi-Ann Gayle, Communications Officer

Christmas has come early for hard-working A&E staff who are gearing up with their plans to spend a £1m windfall announced yesterday by the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt MP.

Picture of Watford Hosptial

The money – given for improvements to be made ahead of this winter – is the second reason for celebration at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

The emergency team is currently enjoying praise from regulators, Trust bosses and local politicians for its impressive turnaround in waiting times for emergency patients. And with money for improvements to withstand the pressures that winter brings, there is a real spring in the step of staff whose roles are among the hardest in the NHS.

Trust chairman, Professor Steve Barnett, said: “I have never doubted the commitment of this fantastic team, but our performance has not always been where we wanted in terms of waiting times for our patients. The Board has been taking a close interest in the steady improvement and we have been delighted to see that, month by month, the care and efforts of our staff are resulting in a better experience for our patients. I am immensely proud of our staff and grateful to our partners in the NHS and local authorities who have supported our drive to reduce our emergency waiting times.”

Chief executive Katie Fisher added: “What a team! I am humbled by their hard work and continued openness to new ways of working. We saw unprecedented activity last winter which makes this success all the more impressive. Instead of taking their foot off the pedal, they have pushed on in the interests of our patients and with new funding on its way, I am confident that this coming winter will be a little easier.”

Dr Tammy Angel, divisional director for unscheduled care, said: “Earlier this year we were struggling to meet the four hour A&E target* which often left us in the bottom 10% of 138 hospital trusts. The reputational issues are one thing, but for me, the concern was the experience of our patients who were waiting on trolleys or having an extended stay in our busy emergency department when they should have been on a ward.

“Now, we’re hovering around the top 10% in the country which is remarkable. Figures last week placed us 14th out of 138 hospital trusts. This is great news for patients and a fantastic way to show how our hard work is paying off.

“Our success isn’t a surprise, it's the result of fresh ideas, determination, commitment, care, improved morale and support from partner organisations. But the biggest single factor is our staff – we haven’t recruited a raft of new starters – our homegrown heroes have helped us achieve this.”

Watford’s newly re-elected MP Richard Harrington said: “I am absolutely delighted that West Herts Hospitals will be receiving an extra £1 million for their emergency department as part of the Government’s winter funding for hospitals. The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has visited Watford General several times over the last few years and so when it was announced that there would be a dedicated fund for emergency departments during the winter months, I made sure Watford was at the top of the list!

"This extra funding from the Government will be used to help hospitals properly prepare themselves for winter, particularly to handle the large number of patients that we know attend A&E. This is all part of the Government’s wider plans to improve A&E performance in England by 2018, particularly to get hospitals hitting the target of admitting, transferring or discharging 95% of patients within four hours.

"I have no doubt that this will go a long way to improve our emergency services but I have to also pay tribute to the fantastic staff who work in the emergency department at Watford General, who have drastically reduced waiting times already. Watford General is currently in the top 10% of the country, with some of lowest waiting times, and this is real credit to the hard working staff there.”

Praise has also come from the elected Mayor of Watford. Baroness Dorothy Thornhill MBE said: “This is a real sign of returning confidence in the Trust from government. They believe the necessary changes will happen and will therefore fund them. It’s a vote of confidence in our new team at the Trust and as Mayor I am mightily pleased for patients who are our top priority.”

The £1m is part of the second wave of national funding to ease pressure on hospital emergency departments ahead of next winter. The Secretary of State confirmed that a further £20.74 million has been awarded to 27 hospitals in England, which follows an initial £55.98 million given to 70 hospitals in April.

The funding will pay for an expansion into an area previously used by the physiotherapy team who are moving to a new location in the community this summer. The money will also be used to create a new eight bed clinical decision unit for patients who are admitted under the care of the A&E team and who need further investigation and observation. Alongside this, a secure route for trolleys will be created so that the resuscitation area can be closed off to protect the privacy of the most unwell patients. The money will also pay for the doors at the hospital – used by ambulance crews to access A&E – to be widened to make access to the hospital easier and quicker.


For more information about our hospitals, visit www.westhertshospitals.nhs.uk. You can also join our near 5,324 followers on Twitter (twitter.com/westhertsNHS) or find us on Facebook (facebook.com/westhertsNHS).

  1. *95% of patients attending the emergency department should be admitted, discharged or referred to another service within four hours.
  2. For more information, please contact Name, title in the Trust’s communications department on telephone: 01923 436 281 or email: info@whht.nhs.uk. Out of hours, please call 07900 228 031.
  3. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is a large acute trust serving people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three sites at Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals and sees about 600,000 patients a year. We are one of the largest employers locally, with around 4,500 staff and volunteers.