April 2018 to March 2019 has been an incredibly challenging year for South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, one in which we have seen an unprecedented increase in the demand for our services.
Over the last year our A&E and minor injury unit teams treated over 155,000 patients; 6,000 more than the previous year, with over 1,300 more people arriving by ambulance which represents a 43% increase in our daily ambulance attendances.
We have also seen an additional 1,132 patients admitted to hospital due to the increasing complexity of the conditions patients are presenting with, with unfortunately 9% more frail elderly patients being admitted, despite an acute hospital setting not necessarily being the best or safest place for those patients.
Despite this backdrop of unrelenting demand we still however maintained our record in hitting the 95% A&E four hour standard having achieved 95.2% over the year and continue to be one of the best performing emergency departments and major trauma centres in the country – something which we are incredibly proud of.
We have also seen a 16% increase in cancer referrals this year which has put huge pressure on our cancer services, but as the regional cancer centre, we have actually treated 10% more patients with cancer this year than in previous years.
In terms of our elective activity, we are constantly challenged in delivering the very important 18 week patient access target and despite a 5% growth in emergency activity, we have been able to ensure our waiting lists for both outpatient appointments and planned procedures have not increased – we still have room for improvement though.
Our infection control figures for 2018/19 also show we’ve seen the lowest level of trust-apportioned Clostridium difficile ever recorded at South Tees, the lowest rate of mortality the trust has seen for 11 years and one of the lowest patient complaint rates in the country at 19 complaints per 10,000 patient episodes, compared to a national average of 36, again something we are extremely proud of.
Over the last four years the trust has delivered over £128million in efficiency savings, as part of our five-year recovery plan, in order to return our organisation to a financially sustainable position, and in this year of unrelenting pressure we have finally returned to balance and will report an £8.1million surplus – which is the first time in many years that the trust has been in this position.
Of course this has not been an easy journey and having stabilised our finances, we now firmly believe that we are at the end of the road in terms of further efficiencies we can deliver as an organisation and believe we must now switch to investing in enabling technology and far more importantly in our people to ensure we can continue to deliver the great healthcare services the people of Hambleton, Richmondshire, Whitby and the Tees Valley deserve.
The achievements outlined above have only been delivered by one group of people – our 8,500 staff – who are not only passionate about patient safety but who continue to show great care and compassion to the patients and communities we serve in the most difficult and challenging circumstances.