Improved RCHT ED waiting times, good news or fake news?
Press release from West Cornwall HealthWatch Sept 8th 2017
Real improvement or public deception?
It was reported in the media recently that the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust had made a significant improvement in the 4 hour target for Accident and Emergency treatment, up from 85.53% in June to 93% in July – a good news story or a fake news story?
Until July the figures for Treliske A&E plus WCH Urgent Care Centre were reported together but separate from the figure for the Minor Injury Units. From July all three have been added in together to give the 93%. In actual fact (NHS England source) only 80.3% of patients attending Treliske met the 4 hour target of arrival to admission, transfer or discharge, while 99.5% of patients attending other units did.
According to NHS Kernow (the Commissioners for Cornwall Health) the combining of figures is to meet financial targets. There may be a dubious argument to massage the figures to achieve more money but penalties are there, loathe them or love them to provide incentive to improve performance. Where is this incentive now?
What this means is that A&E delivery at Treliske is much the same – well below the national target of 95% for 4 hour waiting times (which in itself is a pretty poor target for people waiting for urgent or emergency treatment!) – but by combining figures with the Minor Injury Units, suddenly it appears that Cornwall is doing much better. Patients need to be aware that they will probably wait just as long for care which they need, despite the ‘good news’ story.
This ‘improved’ figures could have a negative effect and only encourage more people to go to Treliske because they think they will get a better service there than any of the alternatives (like the Urgent Care Centre at West Cornwall Hospital and/or any of the MIUs), and therefore make the situation even more difficult for the very hard pressed staff who do a superb job.
The NHS really needs to take greater care on accuracy with media stories and correct any misconceptions so that the general public doesn’t think all is well at Treliske A&E.
In any other scenario this could be called a scam!