Royal Free forced to turn ambulances away as A&E performance deteriorates

The Royal Free's A&E is struggling to meet government targets

The Royal Free's A&E is struggling to meet government targets - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Royal Free is continuing to struggle in efforts to meet key government targets for A&E waiting times – with the hospital under so much pressure it has now been forced to turn away ambulances.

Figures published last week, covering the week ending January 4, showed the emergency department at the hospital in Hampstead had treated 85.8 per cent of patients within four hours. This is against a target of 95 per cent.

The Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust also runs Barnet A&E which achieved just 84.6 per cent.

The hospital has previously blamed part of the problem on reduced bed flow, delayed transfers of care, and an increase in the number of patients travelling from Brent following the closure of Central Middlesex A&E in September.

The Royal Free is currently in the process of a £25million upgrade of its A&E, expanding capacity.


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Many other trusts across the country are experiencing longer waiting times in their A&Es.

The Royal Free confirmed this week ambulances had been turned away during the week ending January 4, with a number of other trusts across London also reported to have requested ambulance diversions.

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A spokesman for the Royal Free said: “At Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital, in common with hospitals across the country, we are experiencing increased demand for our emergency services at the moment.

“At the Royal Free London we strive to deliver the best possible care and this includes ensuring that no patient is made to wait longer than necessary for treatment. With this in mind measures have been put in place at both sites which we hope will help us meet our target of seeing at least 95% of emergency patients within four hours through the remaining winter months.

“This includes the provision of additional staff at our emergency departments, opening additional beds, more GP support at the urgent care centre at Barnet Hospital and additional therapy support for elderly care wards.”

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