AN INTENSE flu season and non-emergency patients coming to A&E are two of the main reasons behind Royal Bournemouth Hospital missing the NHS waiting target by 20 per cent, according to a top consultant in the department.

As reported, around 25 per cent of patients had to wait more than the four hours to be admitted, transferred or discharged after arriving at the hospital last month.

In November and December Royal Bournemouth Hospital experienced a 10 per cent increase in the number of patients coming through the door compared with the previous year.

Farhad Islam, lead clinician of Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s emergency department, said while the wait time figures showed a drop in performance, the hospital was still performing well compared with many sites around the country.

He said a recent Getting It Right First Time inspection of the hospital, which assesses care practices across departments, found staff were doing far better than the waiting time target suggested.

Asked for the main reasons for the pressures of recent weeks, Dr Islam said: “There has been rising demand and this year we knew this was going to happen.

“We expected there to be a bad flu season because we usually follow what happens in Australia and they had a particularly bad season for flu. It has also happened earlier than normal. We have had 90 confirmed flu cases, with four flu deaths in this hospital alone.

“It has hit us hard on top of the winter pressures.

“There is a rising demand in general. Part of that is down to a generational thing.

“Many people now don’t want to wait to see a specialist or a GP. We are a victim of our own success because they know if they come to A&E we will try to deal with it in four hours, with X-rays and blood tests.”

Dr Islam has worked in the department at Bournemouth Hospital since 2007. He said the in that time the number of attendees to the unit had gone up more than 50 per cent.

The ED previously had just two consultants, where as now it works with a team of 15.

Dr Islam said many people he saw in queues for A&E at the hospital in recent weeks did not need to be there and would have been better off going to a pharmacy, their GP or an urgent treatment centre.

This was a message echoed by Dorset HealthCare, which suggested community hospitals around the conurbation could provide an alternative for patients while alleviating the pressure on A&E departments.

Alyson O’Donnell, Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals trust medical director, said: “If you are less sick, you might be much better treated elsewhere and receive more appropriate and timely care.

“A local pharmacy may be able to offer you advice, or you could see you GP.

“For more urgent conditions, there are a number of Urgent Treatment Centres and community hospitals that can provide care.

“You can see details of these and current waiting times on the WaitLess app.”