Health chiefs are developing a ‘rapid improvement plan’ after A&E departments at Sandwell General and City hospitals were rated in the bottom 20 performers in the country.
Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust is looking to make changes in its emergency departments which deal with hundreds of patients every month on its two sites, which have been criticised for failing to meet four hour waiting time targets.
In a report to the July meeting of the trust’s quality and safety committee, chief operating officer Rachel Barlow, said: "The trust ED (Emergency Departments) performance was featuring in bottom 20 trusts nationally hence a rapid improvement plan has been initiated, specifically targeting the responsiveness of specialties to ED ensuring the patient seen by the right clinician as soon as possible."
Reasons for delays included GPs referring surgical patients to A&E departments instead of surgical assessment units and the increasing numbers of intoxicated patients with signs of mental health symptoms being taken to hospital by the police.
The minutes of the committee's meeting state: “This has the potential to significantly increase patient attendance to requiring formal mental health assessments in ED.
"Work is being carried out with mental health teams, police and social care partners to scope the potential demand and resource solutions."
In a statement, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust said that it has seen 18,000 admissions to the emergency department since January this year.
Rachel said: "I would like to apologise to patients who have waited longer than expected when visiting our Emergency Departments.
"We are working hard to improve this, with patient safety and care at the forefront of our joint A&E rapid improvement plan.
“As part of this plan we are looking at new ways of working, which include streaming patients directly to our assessment units and the earlier involvement of senior clinicians when patients present at our Emergency Departments.
"We now have the ability to book appointments for patients with a GP if that is appropriate after an initial assessment, and we continue to support staff to see patients safely and faster through investment in the latest diagnostic equipment."
The trust added it was working with mental health teams, police and social care partners to ensure patients receive the appropriate care in the right setting.