SOUTHEND Hospital failed to meet its targets on A&E waiting times even before the Christmas influx, latest figures reveal.

The hospital, which saw ambulances backed up as it struggled to cope with a surge of patients over the festive period, was unable to make the target of 95 per cent of patients admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours in emergency departments over three months last year.

The hospital came closest to meeting the target in August with 91.1 per cent of patients seen within four hours. In September that slipped to 87.5 per cent before rising slightly in October to 89.4 per cent.

A performance report in December showed the hospital initiated its “full capacity protocol” to alleviate overcrowding in A&E during the same three months.

The report said: “The hospital has seen a significantly high number of attendances which has put pressure on the front door, and impacted on patient flow through the hospital.

“Full capacity protocol has had to be enacted on several occasions which has had an impact on all the wards. The staffing levels and acuity of the patients is monitored continuously and reviewed formally, four hourly, at the site meetings.”

It comes as the hospital said there had been improvements in cancer treatment waiting times this year despite missed targets.

Last week the Echo reported the hospital breached a 62-day target for completion of cancer treatment 80 times.

A spokesman for the hospital said: “Southend Hospital’s performance against the cancer 62 day referral to treatment standards has improved since last year, and has continued to improve with a robust action plan in place.

“A lot of work has been carried out to improve turnaround time for patients through partnership working with Basildon and Mid Essex hospitals. “

The hospital has also unveiled plans for four new high dependency unit (HDU) beds by March 2019 to help cope with increased demand on its services.

The report said: “It is recognised that the health of a patient in hospital may suddenly deteriorate and there are certain times when this may be more likely, for example following an emergency admission to hospital, immediately following surgery or in the period directly leaving intensive care.

“An increase in emergency demand and acuity results in a greater number of patients requiring critical or high dependency care.

“This has been reflected nationally and locally.”

A spokesman for the hospital said: “Improving the quality of care is the main priority for our hospital, and there is currently work taking place in the trust to open the permanent facility in February, “