‘Pressures’ at Northwick Park Hospital revealed including at A&E

Patients at a London hospital are facing waits of up to eight hours at A&E, health bosses say. 

Director of strategy at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWH) Simon Crawford said Northwick Park Hospital is still “under pressure” following the Covid-19 pandemic.

He explained patients can be waiting for up to eight hours after they’ve arrived at the urgent treatment centre (UTC). 

According to the NHS, UTCs are “equipped to diagnose and deal with many of the most common ailments people attend A&E for”. 

Mr Crawford noted anyone coming  to the hospital with a serious condition would be “fast tracked”. 

But he said there needs to be alternative options to deal with the number of people arriving at the UTC to help manage the wait times. 

He told a Brent Council health and wellbeing board: “One of the challenges for us as an acute trust provider is around the volume of patients coming into the UTC and finding alternative pathways to them in the community. 

“Because it’s taking them so long to assess those patients, that by the time they’re getting to A&E they’re almost already breaching the four hour standard.

“We came in this morning to patients waiting eight hours in UTC to access our A&E department.

“Clearly urgent cases were fast tracked but in terms of volume, that’s the sort of challenge we’re against.”

Mr Crawford added there is a weekly battle to secure bed spaces at the hospital for those who need it – it is currently operating a system where people are moved on where possible and their slots immediately filled. 

He said each Monday there are around 20 patients who need beds so it is “vital” there is continued “investment” to ensure people can be discharged properly.

Despite these challenges,  Mr Crawford said the system is “working well” but the trust “cannot take its foot off the gas”. 

He explained it has improved in terms of London-wide performance having been “languishing” at the bottom of league tables in recent years. 

He added the hospital is yet to experience the “proper winter” so it must be prepared for any pressures that arise, particularly given increasing fears around rising Covid cases.

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