plans to reverse a rapid deterioration in A&E waiting times are being drawn up in areas of Yorkshire including Leeds.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has selected West Yorkshire, Harrogate and Craven as England’s first “acceleration zone” in an initiative designed to tackle a worsening crisis in hospitals across the country.
Health services in the zone will be expected to deliver a turnaround in emergency and urgent care performance to hit the national standard to treat 95 per cent of A&E patients within four hours during March.
Under the initiative, bosses at NHS England are injecting £8.6 million into a series of measures to cut rapidly-increasing demand for A&E care, reduce waits for treatment and ease access to beds by discharging patients well enough to leave hospital more quickly.
Latest figures show that in October, Leeds NHS trust treated around 85 per cent of patients in the standard time. The Mid Yorkshire NHS trust in Wakefield dealt with only 80.5 per cent of casualties within the target and nearly 1,700 of its patients waited more than four hours to be admitted to beds.
Soaring demand saw a rise in A&E attendances of seven per cent at the Leeds trust in the three months to September compared to the same period in 2015. In a statement, a spokeswoman for the NHS West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Plan said: “We know that this is a challenging area of work. Getting the balance of who and why people attend A&E, and putting other safe options in place, will mean that fewer people need to be referred to accident and emergency services. This in turn reduces waiting times.”
In Leeds, additional cash from the programme has already funded a GP based in each of the city’s A&E units to treat patients with minor conditions.