University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust was responsible for 65 per cent of the patients in England waiting over 12 hours to be admitted from accident and emergency departments in January, according to NHS England figures.

The number of patients waiting over 12 hours nation-wide was at its highest level in any month since 2010.

Stafford Hospital

The trust had 150 patients waiting over 12 hours in the week ending 25 January

However, University Hospitals of North Midlands was responsible for 417 of the 639 patients waiting over 12 hours throughout January.

There were 158 patients waiting over 12 hours, of which 150 were waiting at North Midlands, in the week ending 25 January.

A note in the trust’s February board papers said: “Research has shown that patients who wait a significant length of time in the emergency department have increased mortality and length of stay.”

HSJ recently reported that the trust had spent £13.5m on Portakabin units, which will be constructed in less than four months to increase capacity at the hospital.

The trust is planning to open an extra 138 beds between October 2014 and March.

The trust formed in November following the dissolution of Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. It was previously the University of North Staffordshire Trust before taking on management of Stafford Hospital.

The trust’s board papers for February indicated that the high number of patients waiting over 12 hours were due to “high demand for side rooms due to increased numbers of patients attending with infection control issues [and] a reduction in the numbers of beds available due to wards being closed both internally and within the community, again due to infection control issues [and] lack of inpatient capacity”.

Wendy Saviour, director of commissioning operations (north Midlands) for NHS England, said the cause of the 12 hour waits was “complex” but “urgent actions are being taken to improve the situation”.

These include “understanding the increased demand and capacity of beds in the community and in hospital”, developing a new “system-wide escalation plan”, developing new models of care for older patients and the “rapid development of a frail elderly assessment service”. 

Ms Saviour added: “NHS England (north Midlands) is placing a high level of priority on working with partners to resolve the pressures that are currently being faced at the University Hospital North Midlands Trust as quickly as possible.”

Julie Oxtoby, clinical accountable officer for North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and speaking on behalf of Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire CCGs, said: “The health system in Northern Staffordshire, like other areas nationally is under enormous pressure. The frontline clinical staff in GP practices, community services and the acute hospital settings have demonstrated extraordinary dedication and commitment to maintaining high quality care throughout this difficult time.

“Representatives from both CCGs paid an unannounced visit to A&E at Royal Stoke University Hospital in January and while the department was clearly very busy, staff were calm, collected and attentive to the patients in attendance.

“We saw patients being actively nursed by hospital staff while they waited. We left the department feeling assured that patients coming to the accident and emergency at RSUH were safe and well cared for, despite the pressure currently facing the hospital.”