Patients pleased with West Sussex’s A&E departments despite pandemic
Patients’ experiences at Chichester and Worthing’s A&E departments improved last year despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a survey suggests.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine praised emergency departments across England for their work, as patient satisfaction rose nationally amid the pressures and challenges of Covid-19.
The 2020 urgent and emergency care survey received feedback from 41,000 patients across England who attended a type one service – A&E departments, sometimes referred to as casualty or emergency departments – in September last year.
The 461 patients surveyed at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which ran the departments at both St Richard’s and Worthing Hospitals, gave the an average overall experience score of 8.4 out of 10.
This was a slight improvement on the grade of 8.2 it received when the survey was last conducted in 2018.
A third of patients nationally gave their overall experience a perfect score – up from 27 per cent in 2016 and 29 per cent in 2018.
NHS Providers said the survey highlighted patients’ concerns about pain management, emotional support and staff availability.
But given the “extreme and unprecedented pressures” they faced, the membership organisation for trusts in England said the survey results are positive.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, added: “This is testament to the dedication and professionalism of frontline staff who strive to deliver care in the most challenging of circumstances.
“We are also pleased to hear that the biggest positive change in this year’s survey findings was in people’s perceptions of cleanliness within A&E departments.”
Across England, 81 per cent of respondents said they were treated with respect and dignity in A&E all of the time – up from 79 per cent in 2018.
Western Sussex Hospitals Trust, which merged with and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust (BSUH) in April this year, received an average score of 9.2 out of 10 on this matter – which was unchanged from two years previously.
And patients gave it a mark of 9.3 for its cleanliness, which was above the national average of nine.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said emergency departments are performing an “incredible job in difficult circumstances”, but noted there are areas for improvement.
Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the RCEM, added: “Many of the areas that are a source of frustration for patients are largely a result of staff shortages.
“It is important that patients have the opportunity to talk through their treatment or condition, that all patients receive the help they need when they need it whether before, after or during their care, and that their pain or condition is managed throughout their time in A&E.”
The NHS Confederation, a membership organisation for the healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said A&E services are even busier now a year on from the survey.
James Devine, director of the acute network at the organisation, said: “Staff are more exhausted after everything they have been through in the pandemic, while being worried about what lies ahead this winter.
“Time will tell whether the Government’s Covid winter plan will be enough to keep transmission down but there are a range of things we can all do to keep each another safe and protect the NHS.
“This includes by getting vaccinated if eligible, wearing masks where appropriate, testing and self-isolating if required and following the other vital infection control measures.”