PERFORMANCE: Warrrington & Halton Hospitals FT has been forced to divert patients to other A&E departments on four occasions over the winter period, Department of Health data shows.

New DH figures show that the foundation has agreed temporary diverts to other A&E departments four times between 1 November 2010 and 30 January 2011.

The most recent occasion was on 27 January. Only 13 trusts were forced to rely on other A&E departments on more occasions over the winter period. Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust showed the worst performance by a wide margin, with A&E diverts agreed on 51 occasions. 114 trusts got through the three month period without any diverts from their A&E departments.

DH notes published alongside the daily situation report data says diversion of patients as a result of lack of physical or staff capacity to deal with attendances or admissions should be “an action of last resort”. 

It adds: “Robust network wide escalation planning together with trusts’ own internal planning should mean that any increase in activity can be managed internally, by for example diverting staff from elsewhere in the hospital. Therefore, diversion of patients for respite reasons should only need to happen in exceptional circumstances, where internal measures have not succeeded in tackling the underlying problem.”