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Winter vomiting bug stretches A&E services
A WINTER diarrhoea and vomiting bug has left people facing longer waits in accident and emergency departments as NHS bosses struggle to hit a key emergency target. At least 95 per cent of emergency patients are supposed to be seen, treated, admitted or discharged within four hours of arriving at A&E at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester or the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch. The figure for December (up to December 16) is 91.69 per cent, which means the trust looks set to fail the target for a second consecutive month. Your Worcester News asked for the figure for the month but trust bosses say they have yet to publish it.
In November the trust also missed the target, recording a figure of 94.33 per cent. Stewart Messer, chief operating officer at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said missing the target was as a result of norovirus outbreaks at both the Alexandra and Worcestershire Royal Hospital sites. In total seven wards were closed and a number of bays on other wards were affected.
This resulted in the closure of 160 beds at the peak of the outbreak with 40 empty beds that the trust was unable to use because of symptomatic patients on the wards. Mr Messer said: “We have introduced hydrogen peroxide vapour (HPV) cleaning to eradicate norovirus from the environment.
“The trust used this technology in earnest on both sites and the outbreaks were well controlled and managed in a two-week period. “Nevertheless, the loss of beds and closure of wards during this period lead to significant capacity management challenges and the safety and quality of care to patients and their visitors remained our primary concern at this time.
“In addition to the outbreak we also started to see more seriously ill patients presenting in A&E.
“At this time of year it is expected that we start to see more patients suffering from stroke, chest pain and respiratory illness. “We were disappointed not to hit the emergency access target after strong performance in the previous four months and we are hopeful that we will not be penalised given the circumstances that we experienced.” The trust hit the four hour target in July, August, September and October.
We have previously reported how the Deprox device uses HPV to kill all the germs in the air including flu and norovirus.