A review into an acute trust’s “unacceptably poor” accident and emergency waiting time figures concludes that primary care capacity in the region must be used in order to reduce pressures on A&E departments.  

The “rapid diagnostic” review into Portsmouth Hospitals Trust also suggested that queuing must be removed from emergency departments and an accountable officer be appointed for urgent care across the region’s health system.

The review, carried out by a former London hospital trust chief executive, found that the chief cause of continual breaches into the four hour standard is a lack of bed availability.

Other major factors behind Portsmouth’s failure to meet the target for the five quarters to June, were clinical breaches and time waiting for specialist opinion, the study found.

Fiona Wise, former chief executive at North West London Hospitals Trust, was brought in by Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group to look into the issue at the end of April.

An “urgent care plan” designed to address the issues raised by Ms Wise’s investigation, will be overseen by Portsmouth Hospitals chief executive Ursula Ward.

The priority areas within the plan include reviewing the clinical model within the trust’s hospitals, addressing hospital flow and discharge and strengthening the governance structures.

Ms Ward will chair the Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Urgent Care Board, which will monitor progress on the waiting standard, according to board papers.

Documents presented at a CCG board meeting earlier this week expressed frustration that resources put in place at the trust and across the health economy had not had any material impact on the trust’s waiting target.

In January this year the leaders of three clinical commissioning groups wrote to Ms Ward setting out concerns about the quality of the care provided by Portsmouth Hospitals.

Ms Ward was asked to explain how she intended to tackle recurrent problems such as cancer waiting time breaches and poor A&E performance in the letters from senior figures at Portsmouth, South Eastern Hampshire and Fareham and Gosport CCGs.