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Southampton misses out on £235m A&E cash boost
SOUTHAMPTON'S under-pressure accident and emergency department will not get any extra money - despite missing a key target for most of the past year.
It has missed out on a share of a £235m Government cash bonanza even though it has failed to see 95 per cent of patients within four hours in 38 of the last 52 weeks.
Southampton Itchen MP John Denham has slammed the Government for giving the city a “poor deal” while hospital bosses have spoken of their disappointment that they will not be getting any extra help to avoid a repeat of last winter when patients faced increased waiting times.
Ministers say the money has gone to the A&E departments most “at risk”.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday announced that 53 A&E departments across the country will have a share of a new £235m fund next year to overhaul the way they cope with increased pressure.
But despite Southampton General Hospital’s frequent failure to hit the four-hour target, triggering an investigation by healthcare watchdog Monitor and urgent talks with nursing chiefs, the city’s emergency department will get no help.
Hampshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester which missed the four-hour target over the winter months, has been considered for the extra cash, expected to be as much as £3.3m.
Mr Denham said: “It makes no sense not to help Southampton when the facts are clear: our A&E is missing its targets and patients are losing out.
“The unfolding crisis in A&E is a clear symptom of a system under pressure and there is no more visible sign that ambulances queuing up outside A&E units and patients waiting longer to be seen. Yet again Southampton gets a poor deal from the Tories.”
The decision shocked Harry Dymond, from Healthwatch Southampton.
He said: “This is a really big disappointment. They clearly need to get their targets achieved and that currently isn’t happening, yet others are getting the help and Southamp-ton isn’t.”
Bosses at University Hospital Southampton (UHS), which runs Southampton General Hospital, insist improvements have already been made without financial help.
Dr Michael Marsh, medical director at UHS, said: “This year we are preparing to face what we expect to be a very challenging winter that will place significant demand on our hospitals.
“We are disappointed that we will not be receiving funding for winter pressures that the NHS in this area is expected to face, however, we have been working hard to reduce waits where it is clinically appropriate to do so and have met the four-hour target in each of the past three months.
“We will continue to work closely with our fellow healthcare providers, council of governors and regulator Monitor to ensure we build on this progress over the coming weeks and months.”
A spokesman from the Department of Heath said that the money was given to the 53 trusts which were identified as the “most at risk” of delivering A&E targets by health watchdog Monitor and the NHS Development, as well as regional and national groups.
He added: “Decisions were made on the basis of risk of delivering A&E targets and other factors like financial risk, challenging local circumstances and needs of the local population. Proposals were reviewed by regional groups to ensure plans were evidence-based.”
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