Bristol and Weston hospitals have worst A&E 'trolley waits' in England - for second month running

A general view of the BRI. Credit: PA

NHS bosses in Bristol have apologised to patients in emergency departments, as trolley waits in the city's main hospital are the worst in England.

It is the second month in a running the University Hospitals Bristol - which runs the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) and Weston General Hospital - have been the worst in the country.

What is a 'trolley wait'?

A trolley wait is the time a patient waits in A&E after it is decided they need to stay in hospital.

Hospitals in Bristol city centre and Weston-super-Mare had 594 patients who waited more than 12 hours for a bed after the decision was made to admit them to a ward in October.

Bosses at the NHS trust say extreme pressure is impacting its hospitals' ability to admit patients in a "timely way".

They say staffing challenges, rising numbers of Covid patients and infection control guidance which dictates there are separate wards for Covid and non-Covid patients are some of the reasons for the long waits.

Health and care services in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire reached their highest alert level earlier this month.

South Western Ambulance Service has also recorded the longest response times in the country, describing the current situtation as "the most sustained period of pressure in its history".

Dr Emma Redfern, interim medical director at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust has apologised to patients experiencing delays in A&E.

She said: “Patient safety is our priority. Like many hospitals across the country, we are under sustained pressure in our emergency departments.

“We always aim to see and treat patients as quickly as possible, and all patients arriving at our emergency departments are triaged and assessed with the most clinically urgent being prioritised."

The trust recently invested in a Same Day Emergency Care unit which is a provision of same day care for emergency patients who would otherwise be admitted to hospital, allowing them to be "rapidly assessed" without being admitted to a ward, if it's deemed safe to do so.

It was hoped this would mean patients who may not need to be admitted to hospital could be seen and treated at emergency departments, resulting in shorter waiting times for others.

Dr Emma Redfern added: “We are working together with local health and care partners to ensure that people who need hospital care can be admitted and then discharged from hospital safely as soon as they are medically well enough to leave.

"Family and friends of patients can also help by being ready to collect their loved one from hospital when we call, and supporting them when they get home."