Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust apology over waiting times

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The chairman of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust has apologised over "excessive" waiting times faced by patients.

In a report to go before the hospital board later, the trust admitted there had been particular problems at Accident & Emergency (A&E).

It said waits of four hours in A&E were caused by issues with the hospital booking system.

There have also been problems with bed blocking, it said.

The Royal Shrewsbury and Telford's Princess Royal hospitals said they had struggled to free up beds due to problems moving patients on once they had been stabilised.

The figures reveal almost 95% of A&E patients were admitted or discharged within four hours over the year, meaning it just failed to reach the national target.

In a statement Chief Nurse Vicky Morris said the trust had been achieving the 95% standard in recent weeks and was "committed to maintaining this".

"This is set against increasing demand for emergency services. In fact last week saw the busiest day in the trust's history for attendances at our emergency departments," she added.

Waiting times

The annual report also showed the trust failed to meet targets to treat patients within 18 weeks of being referred by their GP.

Chairman Dr John Davies said: "Waiting times have been a particular problem this year and I would like to apologise to patients who have had to endure excessive waits."

A backlog of more than 5,000 patients in May 2011 made the trust one of the worst performers in the country in terms of waiting times.

The trust said numbers had been brought down to about 800 by the end of the financial year, making it one of the best performers in the West Midlands.

The report revealed that reducing the 18-week waiting times had come at a cost, with the trust forced to purchase "substantial levels" of operating theatre space from the private Nuffield hospital.

Despite that, and starting the financial year with a £14m deficit, the trust managed to balance its books by the end of March, finishing with a small surplus.

This will be the last annual report presented by chief executive Adam Cairns, who is due to join the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board later in the year.

Peter Herring, currently with the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, has been appointed the new chief executive and is expected to start in the autumn.

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