FINANCE: Two temporary wards are being built at Wexham Park Hospital to increase capacity amid rising demand for accident and emergency services.

The increase in activity is partly down to the closure in 2012 of an emergency unit at nearby Wycombe General Hospital. That decision was taken as part of the Better Healthcare in Buckinghamshire service reorganisation.

January board papers for Heatherwood and Wexham Park Foundation Trust said: “A&E and non-elective activity from Buckinghamshire both increased significantly in December which suggests the transfer of activity from Wycombe is having an effect.”

Board papers said “due to the acute shortage of escalation capacity on the Wexham Park site”, two “modular wards” with a total of 28 beds would be built.

Between April 2011 and December 2012 A&E attendance was up seven per cent at Wexham Park.

Wycombe patients were expected to account for about 14 per cent of attendances, based on data gathered earlier in 2012. However, they were more likely to come in by ambulance, and are therefore more likely to be admitted. Ambulance conveyances were up 27 per cent between April 2011 and December 2012, while general admissions rose 42 per cent over the same period.

Achievement of the four-hour A&E target was “challenging” for the trust, the papers said. The target was missed in November and December.

Heatherwood and Wexham Park also announced that it expects to meet its £6.9m deficit target for 2012-13. The trust finished 2011-12 with a £13.5m deficit.

Although officially on target this year, Heatherwood and Wexham Park reported a £198,000 shortfall on cost improvement plan savings in December.

Contingency funds worth £2.3m had already been released over the year to date, with a further £1.4m to be released in quarter four of 2012-13.