Hard pressed emergency hospital staff in South Tyneside dealt with over 6,000 causualties in December - but missed a key Government performance target.
New figures show over 400 A&E patients at South Tyneside District Hospital waited over four hours to be admitted, transferred or discharged.
That meant 92.10% were seen inside the Government’s 95% target time - better than December 2017, when 88% of patients were seen within four hours.
Dr Sean Fenwick, director of operations at South Tyneside and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trusts, said:
“Like the rest of the NHS, we continue to see unprecedented demand for our emergency care services.
“This pressure is now all year round and means the NHS is now successfully treating more patients than ever before within four hours.
“In South Tyneside we had a very busy December and in the three weeks over Christmas and New Year alone saw a 12% increase in ambulance arrivals and an average of 45 ambulance attendances a day.
“Over 6,140 patients presented to our emergency department in December, an average of 198 attendances per day and, as always, we must prioritise those with the most urgent clinical needs which means some people may need to wait longer.
“Despite the relentless increase in activity, we continue to perform amongst the best in the NHS and higher than the national average, with 92.10% of patients in South Tyneside being seen and treated or discharged within four hours of arrival.”
He added: “Our teams are working exceptionally hard, day-in, day-out, to ensure safe, high quality care for every patient who needs emergency treatment and we continue to see around nine out of every ten people within four hours of their arrival which is testament to the exceptional skill, dedication and commitment of our amazing frontline staff.”
Across England, the number of patients waiting more than four hours reduced from 292,860 in December 2017 to 270,171 last December – despite overall attendances increasing.
Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “There is more demand on the NHS, but that is something those of us on the frontline have been warning of for some time.
“My sincere hope is that the so-far mild weather has not lulled our leaders into a false sense of security, and that just because things are better than 12 months ago, this does not make it good, as key targets in preparing for winter were not achieved.”
An NHS spokesman said: “Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, monthly figures published this morning show the health service performed better for A&E services this December, than December 2017, despite successfully caring for 3.9% more people within the current four-hour target.
“We are now in what can be the most pressured time of year – flu, other winter bugs and adverse weather conditions can all increase, so the situation is being closely monitored.”