SOUTH Tyneside District Hospital is bucking the trend as hospitals around the country struggle with meeting emergency targets.
Staff at the hospital in Harton Lane, South Shields, are beating the national target for waiting times in its accident and emergency department.
Targets set by NHS England say that at least 95 per cent of patients should be treated within four hours of being admitted.
Last week, 94.8 per cent of NHS patients in England were treated inside the target time.
Waiting times were worst in major hospital accident and emergency wards, where just 92.2 per cent of patients were seen within four hours.
Across England, 3,679 patients were forced to wait between four and 12 hours for treatment, and five people were not seen for more than 12 hours, new figures show.
Last week, hospitals treated more than 415,000 emergencies – 3,500 more than the previous week.
But as other hospitals are struggling to meet the target, South Tyneside is beating it.
The hospital treated 96.8 per cent of A&E patients within four hours of them being admitted last week.
Helen Ray, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s chief operating officer, said: “We always do everything we can to minimise the time patients wait to be seen, and we are proud of our track record.
“We have successfully achieved the four-hour target every year for the past five years, despite an increase of more than 21 per cent in activity in the accident and emergency department over the past five years.
“In 2008-09 the department saw 49,340 people. It was 59,892 in 2012-13.
“We would stress, however, the importance of people choosing the right service at this time of year, when the NHS comes under great pressure due to an increase in emergency attendances at hospital, with a range of winter illnesses and with injuries from falls in snowy and icy conditions.”
“A&E departments are there to assess and treat patients with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries or illnesses.
“We would appeal to patients with minor injuries and illnesses to help us to efficiently manage the very sick people who really need to be seen in hospital by not, automatically, turning up at A&E.
“For coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms, ask your local pharmacist for self-care advice.
“Patients with injuries that are more than 48 hours old, or who have had low-level pain for a few days, should see their GP first.
“Minor injury units and walk-in centres can treat many minor ailments.”