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East Kent Hospital Trust accused of 'covering up poor results' for waiting times

By Caitlin Webb, local democracy reporter

A hospital trust in east Kent has been accused of "covering up poor results" by publishing waiting time figures that appear to be 10% better than official statistics.

In its latest board papers, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust reported 78% of patients in emergency departments were seen within four hours in February.

However, NHS England found only 67% of those at William Harvey and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother hospitals' A&E were treated within that timeframe.

Nurse bandaging a patient in an emergency room
Nurse bandaging a patient in an emergency room

The trust says the figures in the board papers have included waiting times for emergency departments and all minor injury clinics within east Kent since last October.

In the trust's board papers this distinction is not made.

The paper states the four-hour compliance rates without outlining which departments are included in the statistics.

Cllr Karen Constantine (Lab), a member of Kent County Council's health overview and scrutiny committee, is calling on the trust to "clear things up".

She said: "I don't think anyone should need a degree to interpret the stats their local hospital puts out.

"I think the information should always be presented in a clear and easy way.

"The trust should take steps to confirm the actual facts of the matter and demonstrate how they will make this clear so that the public, that uses and pays for the facilities, can easily see what's actually going on.

"If they don't, it looks like they are covering something up."

The trust has been accused of "covering up poor results"
The trust has been accused of "covering up poor results"

A spokeman has said the trust submits a full breakdown of data every month that is published online by NHS England.

Sarah Landers said: "Until October 1, 2017, the trust had only reported type 3 data for patients attending its minor injury units at Buckland Hospital and Kent and Canterbury Hospital to NHS England.

"From October the trust was asked to include east Kent patients attending other units run by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust in the type 3 data to bring consistency to the way all trusts in England were reporting performance.

"The total figure for type 1 and type 3 data combined is included in the headline performance report for the board, and is in line with the changes made in October."

The performance of the trust has improved since last year when it was rated one of the worst in the country.

Both sets of data show its emergency departments are meeting targets more often and the trust no longer ranks in the bottom 20 for missing the four-hour deadline.

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