MORE than 2,400 people waited over four hours to be seen at A&E in North and West Cumbria last month.

NHS England released the figures this week for the departments at the West Cumberland hospital in Whitehaven and the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

They said that only 75.4 per cent of the 9,744 patients were seen within four hours and 23 waited over 12 hours.

Both hospitals failed to hit the target of treating and discharging, admitting or transferring 95 per cent of patients within four hours.

Prof John Howarth, deputy CEO for North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have been very open about the fact that health services in north Cumbria are currently under significant pressure, this is reflected across the country and the latest A&E figures support that.

“We know our performance recently, although above the national average, has not been as high statistically as we would like.

“We apologise that some patients are waiting much longer than we would like and we are doing as much as we can to address this and to ensure that patient flow through the hospital is smoother.”

In October, the hospitals saw only 79.9 per cent of A&E patients within four hours, in what was branded the lowest level on record.

But the waiting times in December have now topped those.

Hospital campaigner Christine Wharrier said the system did not work.

It comes only days after the trust said it was reviewing A&E services in West Cumbria due to staffing challenges.

“There’s a shortage of ambulances and on top of that trauma, heart attack and other patients are transferred to Carlisle.

“This takes organising and it takes resources away from the system and it’s a waste of ambulances. The system just doesn’t work,” she said.

Prof Howarth added: “As a longer term solution, we are working with our partners across health and care services to ensure patients are supported to be discharged in a timely way once they are medically fit to leave hospital.

“We aim to get as many people home safely with the right support in place as quickly as possible as it is not beneficial to stay in hospital for prolonged periods when you could be at home. At all times we are fully focussed on providing the best possible quality of care for our patients; our staff are working extremely well and, despite the daily pressure, continue to work hard to keep our patients safe.

“For this the Trust is exceptionally grateful. We would ask the public to help us to help you by making sure that you use the NHS wisely and call 111 first for advice on which service is best for your needs.”