4 hour wait in A&E at Dorset County Hospital

4 hour wait in A&E at Dorset County Hospital

Published by Maria Greenwood at 7:25am 24th September 2019. (Updated at 3:24pm 24th September 2019)

Thousands of A&E patients have waited more than four hours in the last year at Dorset County Hospital.

NHS data shows that A&E patients at DCH were left waiting more than four hours on 4,573 occasions in 2018-19.

96% of attendances were still admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of arrival – just above the NHS's target of 95%.

Medical experts are blaming delays on a combination of staff shortages, decreased funding and the rise in demand.


Medical Hospital

'Seen in under 4 hours' 

NHS bosses recently revealed plans to scrap the four-hour standard, which was introduced in 2004 after arguing it was outdated due to the changing nature of emergency care.

Instead, they proposed replacing it with new targets which include focusing on the most critically ill and injured, and measuring the average wait time for all patients.

At Dorset County Hospital in 2018-19, 88% of emergency attendances were seen within four hours, compared with 96% five years ago.


A spokesperson for Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said:

“Despite unprecedented pressure on our Emergency Department (ED) we remain above the national average for A&E wait performance. This is only possible due to a huge amount of commitment and hard work from staff throughout the hospital and we are incredibly grateful for their unwavering dedication to providing the best possible care for our patients.

“Demand on our services is set to rise further so we must prepare for that and we are aiming to secure funding to expand our Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit as part of plans to develop our site.

Dorset County Hospital Entrance

Tim Gardner, senior policy fellow at the charity the Health Foundation, said “huge” efforts by NHS staff saw more people treated in time last year.

But he said the trend towards longer waits is likely to continue, as hospitals grapple with rising demand, a workforce crisis and continued underfunding.

He added:

“A no-deal Brexit, which appears increasingly likely, would only exacerbate these pressures.

“Staffing shortages would be intensified, driving up demand for hard-pressed services, disrupting supplies of medicines and other necessities, and stretching the public finances which pay for health care.”

Dorset County Hospital is appealing to people to keep pressure off their A&E. A DCHFT spokesperson said:

“We appeal to people to help us manage the pressure on hospital services by using the Emergency Department appropriately. You should only attend the ED for serious life threatening conditions and injuries.

"For more minor conditions there are other local healthcare services available in Dorset, including the Urgent Treatment Centre at Weymouth Hospital, minor injuries units, GPs and pharmacies. For full details please visit the Stay Well Dorset website.