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East Kent: rising A&E waiting times and worsening finances

Health chiefs in east Kent have come under fire for poor financial management and a failure to treat patients fast enough in Accident and Emergency.

Health service regulator Monitor says urgent improvements are needed within the East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - which runs major hospitals at Canterbury, Ashford and Margate.

Monitor says the trust has failed to meet A&E waiting time targets since it was placed in special measures last year.

It was revealed yesterday that East Kent was losing money, with a budget shortfall of nearly £40 million.

However, Monitor found improvements had been made in some areas.

Since last year the trust has refreshed its leadership team and has made progress engaging the staff in the day to day running of the trust.

The trust now needs to harness this improved staff culture to focus efforts on speeding up how quickly patients are seen in A&E.

We also need the new management to make sure the trust returns to a good financial position for its patients.

– Paul Streat, Monitor

Multi million pound budget crisis for East Kent Hospitals

The troubleshooter hired to shake up three struggling hospitals in East Kent has revealed a multi million pound budget crisis.

The East Kent Hospital Trust, which has been in special measures for almost a year, has a budget shortfall of almost £40 million.

Chris Brown, hired on a controversial salary of nearly £300,000 to lead the recovery of the hospitals, says radical measures are needed to balance the books.

Tomorrow a report from the health service regulator will slate standards of financial management at the East Kent NHS Trust.

Watch John Ryall's report.

Man dies trying to save child from sea after warnings of dangerous currents

A man has died trying to rescue a child from the sea in Dorset. It happened just hours after a major warning - to be aware of dangerous currents and rip tides.

The tragedy took place off West Bexington Beach in West Dorset. The man managed to save the child but then got into difficulty himself. He died shortly after being airlifted to hospital.

The RNLI has warned even strong swimmers should beware - and says this summer has been particularly busy for rescues.

From Bournemouth, Martin Dowse reports.

Autistic teenager is attacked on family holiday

A mother from Surrey has started an online campaign to find out who attacked her autistic son on a family holiday.

Thomas Attwater, who's 18, suffered multiple cuts and bruises to his face when he was punched at a holiday camp on the South Coast.

Police now want to speak to two teenage girls from the Reading area who may have witnessed the attack. Ria Chatterjee has our report.

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Kate may never walk again after sleepwalking and falling down stairs

She went to bed without a care - and woke up in agony, paralysed with a broken back after falling down the stairs.

Kate Sell remembers nothing about the accident - which happened when she was sleepwalking. She's now having intensive treatment at the spinal injuries unit in Salisbury, but doctors say it's unlikely she'll ever walk again.

Robert Murphy reports.

Health watchdog calls for more improvements at Portsmouth hospital

Patients brought in by ambulance continued to wait in a corridor, some for over an hour Credit: ITV Meridian

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals has said he is satisfied that urgent improvements have been made at Portsmouth's Queen Alexandra Hospital but the trust still has more work to do.

The health watchdog says that patients are still waiting too long to be admitted into wards. It follows inspections in February and June.

Following the inspection in February, the CQC issued two warning notices to the Trust requiring immediate improvements to be made in the Emergency Department to the initial assessment of patients, the safe delivery of care and treatment, and the management of emergency care. It says those needs have now been met.

During the latest inspection, CQC found that patients arriving by ambulance were being assessed within 15 minutes by a nurse. Staffing levels had improved taking into account the increase in the number of patients. Nurses were now allocated to the corridor areas in the Emergency Department organising activity to avoid the disorder that inspectors had previously seen.

But there were still delays for patients waiting to see specialist doctors and be admitted into wards. These delays in admissions meant that the department was often full and posed a risk to patients.

In a statement the hospital said: "We have made significant improvements within the Emergency Department, despite continuing to see exceptionally high rates of attendances and needs of our patients. We know that there is still work to do, and we are progressing with a detailed action plan to continue our programme of improvements, alongside our colleagues in the local healthcare system"

New volunteer teams to help Portsmouth's elderly

Queen Alexandra Hospital launches new scheme Credit: ITV news

A new scheme to help prepare elderly patients return home after being discharged is being launched at Portsmouth's Queen Alexandra Hospital. Volunteers will assist with shopping, collecting prescriptions or medication, and transportation to medical appointments for up to six weeks. The measure has been found to halve the number of people having to be readmitted within three months.

The scheme will be run by the Royal Voluntary Service. Research conducted by the charity, assisted by the Kings Fund, identified that older people returning home from hospital without enough support are more than twice as likely to be readmitted within three months.

As part of the service, the volunteer will prepare the person's home, making sure the heating and lights are on and that the kitchen is stocked with essentials.

David McCullough, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service said: "This service will mean more older people will receive the support of a caring volunteer who will be there to help them get back on their feet after a stay in hospital. We know that placing a volunteer at the centre of a person's recovery plan can make a huge difference."

Linda Field, Head of Nursing for Medicine for Older People, Rehabilitation and Stroke at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "These volunteers will make a significant difference to the lives of older people after they are discharged from QA. Their support will be invaluable in helping our patients, some of whom may have been in hospital for a length of time, to settle back into their own homes. This ongoing support benefits patients hugely, and has a positive impact on physical health as well as emotional wellbeing.

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