NHS Improvement is to look at how patient waiting times could be reduced in A&E and for planned procedures at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, and will consider whether it requires further support to improve.
The trust, which provides acute services to people across Bath and surrounding areas and specialist rehabilitation to people from across the country, has faced challenges with speeding up how quickly patients are being seen for some time.
When the trust was authorised as a foundation trust by NHS Improvement (then Monitor) in October 2014, actions were agreed to reduce waiting times in its A&E.
Those actions were supported at the end of last year by the Emergency Care and Intensive Support Team, who provided expert advice to improve the trust’s emergency care plan.
This year, NHS Improvement and NHS England have coordinated work between the trust and local commissioners to make sure that community care in the local health system was supporting the trust’s continuing efforts to improve A&E.
However, throughout this time the number of people using the trust’s A&E has continued to rise, and waiting times remain too long.
NHS Improvement wants to find out whether the trust’s emergency care plan has properly adapted to the increasing demand and what else it could do to cut waiting times for its patients. NHS Improvement will also review what further action the trust can take to reduce waiting times for planned procedures.
Claudia Griffith, Regional Director at NHS Improvement, said: “We know the trust has been working hard for some time to try to cut down how long patients are waiting in its A&E and for planned procedures.
“Patients are still waiting too long though, so we really want to find out more about the challenges it is facing and what further support the trust might need to consistently improve for its patients.
“We know the trust has been working on its emergency care planning, and we have been supporting it by coordinating local support, but we will now look at what else could be done for RUH Bath’s patients.”
No decision has yet been taken on whether NHS Improvement will need to take regulatory action at the trust. The outcome of this work will be announced in due course.
Ben Howlett, the Member of Parliament for Bath, said: “I am pleased that NHS Improvement has committed to working with the RUH to reduce waiting times in A&E.
“The clinicians and staff at the hospital have been working incredibly hard to resolve this problem but the times have remained stubbornly high.
“I hope this fresh pair of eyes will assist our brilliant hospital to deliver even more reflectively in coming years.”