BRADFORD Royal Infirmary (BRI) is struggling to meet its targets for emergency care as patients numbers continue to rise, health chiefs conceded at a public meeting today.

Members of the Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust (BTHFT) Board were told that the accident and emergency department (AED) at BRI saw an average of 396 daily attendances in May of this year, up from 366 in April, and 369 in May last year.

The figure was said to be the third highest attendance of any month in the last seven years, with 2016/17 currently showing a 3.3 per cent growth rate compared to 2015/16.

The trust aims to treat 95 per cent of AED patients within four hours of arrival, but the figure for May was 90.14 per cent, down from 91.81 per cent in April.

The figure for BRI for 2016/17 to-date stands at 91.17 per cent.

Despite failing to reach the performance standards, the trust is still performing better than the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust with a 2016/17 rate of 88.53 per cent, although it is lagging behind Airedale NHS Foundation Trust at 92.39 per cent.

Using the figures for April, Bradford would be ranked 33rd out of 138 provider trusts nationally for AED performance, and 31 out of 138 in terms of volume of patients.

Matthew Horner, director of finance at BTHFT, told the meeting, which was held at the £2.5 million Al Mahdi Mosque in Undercliffe, that AED figures at BRI for June had exceeded the same period from last year by around 5,000 patients.

He said this equated to an increase of approximately two per cent, or an extra ten admissions per day.

“When you are already experiencing high volumes, that is quite a substantial increase,” he added.

Board members also heard that the increased patient numbers at Bradford’s AED were causing failures relating to ambulance handover target times.

The hospital’s performance in May dropped to 71.1 per cent of patients being transferred from an ambulance within 15 minutes, against a target of 85 per cent.

Figures showed there had been 73 delays of more than an hour that month, compared to a total of just 11 breaches for the whole of 2015/16.

A report from the trust’s performance committee, which met on June 29, read: “A significant increase in breaches of the 15, 30, and 60 minute thresholds were reported in April and May 2016.

“Factors contributing to this include increased activity. In May 2016, 620 more patients were conveyed by ambulance to the trust’s AED than in May 2015.

“Discussions about the high level of conveyances are being held with Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

“A trial is also underway of Paramedic Rapid Responders who triage patients in the community and prevent unnecessary conveyance.”

The report also stated that once building work at the AED is completed in August, a redesigned department will allow a “new model of care” with senior medical assessment staff at handover.

Terri Saunderson, acting chief operating officer at BTHFT, said: “We are still experiencing high attendances, and we are doing everything we possibly can on a daily basis.

“What we are looking for is sustained performance, and we are not there yet. We have to keep our plan on track and stick to it.”