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Airedale Hospital boss ‘sorry’ for treatment delays
11:40am Friday 1st February 2013 in News
Bridget Fletcher said Airedale NHS Foundation Trust continued to prioritise emergency care, but a surge in demand late last year meant the hospital could not meet its national target to assess and treat 95 per cent of emergency cases within four hours.
She said factors contributing to this difficult period – especially in December – included a rise in norovirus outbreaks, trips and falls caused by black ice and seasonal flu cases.
She said: “We’d like to reassure patients that emergency care is one of our top priorities and we apologise for any delays patients and their families have experienced if they’ve come to our A&E department or medical admissions unit this winter.
“The whole healthcare system came under pressure in December due to winter vomiting, flu and children’s respiratory problems, which led to extremely high levels of emergency cases for hospitals, GPs and the ambulance service.
“It led to some tough decisions for the foundation trust. For the first time in five years we had to cancel a small number of planned operations this winter.
“This was to enable emergency trauma surgery to take place, and to not put these patients at increased risk of infection following their operation. For the patients we have cancelled I’d like to apologise for the inconvenience caused. We’d only ever cancel planned operations as an absolute last resort.”
She cited national statistics released by the Health Protection Agency this month, which revealed that more than 1.1 million people across Britain were likely to have been infected by the norovirus bug so far this winter. She said the agency reported a 140 per cent rise in norovirus outbreaks in hospitals in England in October and November 2012, compared to the same period in 2011. She said: “While we always plan for unexpected emergencies, I’ve never before seen so many people requiring emergency care over such a sustained period of time.”