New fines threat for University Hospital of North Staffordshire over A&E delays
A HOSPITAL is set to be hit with more fines for taking too long to treat patients at its accident unit – just weeks after an earlier penalty was paid back for cutting delays.
The latest threat comes after the performance at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire's A&E department slumped to its lowest level for more than a year.
NHS officials paying for the service have slapped a so-called contract notice on the hospital which could lead to further fines if improvements are not made quickly.
The Government insists that 95 per cent of A&E patients must be treated and sent home within four hours of their arrival. But the UHNS is currently dealing with just 86.5 per cent of its patients within the deadline.
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That means almost 200 patients a week are having their care delayed – with some waiting more than 11 hours for a bed.
The hospital was fined a total of £3.5 million by the area's primary care trusts in April and June.
But before the latest slump in its performance it had just been paid back £2.5 million of that.
The latest contract notice was issued by Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which will replace primary care trusts (PCTs) next Spring.
Goldenhill GP Dr Chandra Kanneganti, CCG unplanned care director, said: "We sought consistency but we are receiving different performances each week about which direction it is heading.
"A&E attendance and admissions to beds as a result of them are rising significantly and everyone is working hard to understand why this growing demand is happening.
"We have now issued the hospital with a formal notice over the performance of its contract."
The emergency department is still under-performing despite years of the local NHS trying to bring better services for people in the community so they do not need to attend A&E.
In the latest initiative, two senior managers have been assigned to manage the way patients flow through the whole hospital system.
It is part of moves to further speed up the process of hospital discharges.
Graham Urwin, chief executive of the area's PCTs, said: "People are not getting respect and dignity and are at real risk because they are not getting the treatment they need in a timely manner."
Ian Syme, co-ordinator of campaign group North Staffordshire Healthwatch, said: "Skills don't seem to have been moved into the community as they should have done under the Fit for the Future programme to build the new hospital."