PERFORMANCE: A sharp decline in emergency waits in Portsmouth has coincided with a new primary care out of hours contract coming into force.

In October Portsmouth Hospitals Trust achieved waits of four hours or less for 90 per cent of accident and emergency patients, against a target of 95 per cent.

Attendance levels were 4.5 per cent higher in October than for the same period a year earlier, substantially worse than the 2.7 per cent increase reported a month before.

The rise “coincides with the new out of hours contract”. An “audit to explore the potential impact of this change in service” was conducted in November by commissioners.

Board papers said “the majority of breaches occur in the out of hours periods and/or are linked to backlogs created by high volumes of demand in the evenings and at weekends”.

The trust also missed the A&E target in quarter four of last year and quarter one of the current year. For that reason, its Monitor governance risk rating would be red, raising concerns around Portsmouth’s authorisation as a foundation trust.