SOUTHEND Hospital had the worst record in the country last month for keeping patients waiting to be seen in its A&E department.
The hospital scored the worst mark of 243 trusts in England for the percentage of patients being seen by A&E within the NHS’s fourhour target time.
NHS policy is for at least 95 per cent of A&E patients to be seen inside four hours.
Southend Hospital has remained in the bottom ten since the turn of the year.
It has also emerged the hospital is facing a huge bill for agency staff to cover posts left vacant as a growing number of staff – including consultants – leave the trust for other jobs.
In February alone, the trust paid £1million for temporary staff.
A hospital source, who asked not to be named, said: “Morale is really low. We are not used to these sorts of headlines.
“Most people have always thought it a good hospital and have been alarmed with recent performance reports.”
Earlier this week, the Echo reported the hospital had cancelled non-urgent operations because the casualty department was being swamped with huge numbers of unexpected patients.
The situation has got so bad a national NHS intensive support team has been drafted in an effort to stem the growing crisis.
A hospital spokesman said: “The team was brought in because the measures the board tried to tackle the problems have not worked.”
GPs from Southend Clinical Commissioning Group are also now working to help find a solution.
Hospital chief executive Jacqueline Totterdell said the NHS team had recognised A&E was “vulnerable to surges and bunching in demand”.
It has suggested a new assessment system which could quickly work out which A&E patients needed to be treated first.
She added: “I am pleased to say they also thought patients were being well cared for within the department.”
!Basildon Hospital, which faced its own A&E crisis in 2012, is hitting the four-hour A&E target, with 98.1 per cent being seen within the prescribed time last week.
£1m-a-month bill as staff keep leaving
Southend Hospital’s senior managers are trying to find out why so many more medical staff – including consultants – have been leaving the hospital this year.
Detailed analysis of why staff are leaving in significant numbers will be reported to Southend Hospital trust’s board later this month, in an effort to reduce agency cover bills currently running at £1million a month.
A report to the board’s last meeting said: “There has been a rise in consultant staff leavers, primarily A&E and acute, with a further seven resignations in January this year.
“The increase in turnover for the trust is a concerning trend.
“Therefore detailed analysis will be undertaken of all leavers and an update provided to the board next month.”
According to trust board papers, overall staff turnover increased to 12.13 per cent in the 12 months to the beginning of February. Between January and February the monthly amount spent on agency workers rose from £986,000 to just over £1million.
At the same time staff sickness levels increased in January, with 4.21 per cent – the most for a year – phoning in sick during the month.