Ambitious plans to reverse a rapid deterioration in A&E waiting times are being drawn up in Yorkshire in a key initiative designed to tackle a worsening crisis in hospitals across the country.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has selected West Yorkshire, Harrogate and Craven as England’s first “acceleration zone”.
Health services in the area covering 2.6 million people will be expected to deliver a major 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.
Officials admit the target will be “challenging” but the venture is being closely watched by NHS chiefs amid hopes its lessons can be used nationwide to tackle severe pressures facing hospitals.
Under the initiative, bosses at NHS England are injecting £8.6m 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 who are well enough to leave hospital more quickly.
Latest figures show of the area’s six NHS trusts, only Harrogate met the four-hour A&E treatment target in October.
Both Bradford and Leeds NHS trusts treated around 85 per cent of patients in the standard time.
The Wakefield-based Mid Yorkshire NHS trust 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 and Airedale trusts and eight per cent in Harrogate in the three months to September compared to the same period in 2015.
Measures designed to achieve the 95 per cent target in total across the area will include patients with minor conditions streamed to see nurses or GPs rather than hospital doctors in A&E.
Patients with minor conditions could be streamed to see nurses or GPs rather than hospital doctors in A&E and more GP appointments will be available between 8am and 8pm seven days a week.
Other measures include assessing and treating more patients in short-stay units to reduce hospital admissions and providing 24/7 telemedicine video links between clinicians and Continued on Page 2.