MORE than £1 million will be spent on boosting staffing levels at an under-pressure A&E department.
Healths chiefs at Wye Valley NHS Trust have agreed to plough the money in to help boost staff numbers in A&E at Hereford County Hospital.
The money, which will be spent during the coming three years, will boost the current contingent of 78 staff by 18, up to 96.
The decision was made after a report by a leading nurse consultant in emergency medicine urged the trust to carry out a detailed review of the workforce in A&E.
It will mean additional £500,000 this financial year, followed by a similar amount over the following two years.
Neil Doverty, chief operating officer of Wye Valley NHS Trust, called it a "watershed moment" for the organisation.
“The report made it clear that we lack resilience in A&E to effectively manage peaks in demand which have led to unacceptable waits for our patients," he said.
“We have an A&E built to accommodate around 125 patients a day and we are currently regularly seeing between 160 and 180.
“What we’ve agreed to is to employ more staff which will allow much more nurse-led emergency management of A&E activity to complement the existing senior clinician working in the department.
“For our patients, it means there will more senior medical staff to assess them more quickly when they turn up at A&E which will mean a quicker assessment and turnaround.”
The trust has already invested more than £1 on a redesign of emergency and urgent care over the past 12 months.
This has included introducing an Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP) service at A&E.
This involves having a fully qualified nurse dedicated to working with A&E patients who can walk and have minor injuries, and has helped reduce number of patients waiting more than four hours for attention from 3.7 per cent to 0.6 per cent.
But Mr Doverty said more still needs to be done.
“While this investment has helped, we need to modernise the way we staff our A&E and will be basing our new teams of staff on best practice from around the country to ensure we cut waiting times and have the resilience to cope when we experience surges in demand," he said.
“This is major decision and signifies a huge commitment by this trust. It’s essential that we can provide an A&E which is fit for the 21st century and this is a major step towards achieving that goal”.