EMERGENCY doctors at the Great Western Hospital experienced one of their busiest February on record, figures show.

Almost 1,800 patients were left waiting more than four hours to be admitted, transferred to other departments or discharged. In February 2018, 1,407 people faced a four hour wait.

However, last month proved less busy for the emergency department than others this winter. Overall admissions stood at 10,958 for the month, down from a high of 11,993 in January.

GWH bosses say improvements to the emergency department should help improve waiting times.

Leighton Day, associate director of operational performance at GWH, said:“We are continuing to make enhancements across our system through our new Ambulatory Care Unit and triage service which aims to see patients assessed, treated, and home again on the same day. We are also working closely with NHS Improvement on making our services more efficient to reduce wait times and improve patient flow.

“On top of all of this, our successful bid for funding to expand our Emergency Department and help us develop a transitional care rehabilitation facility is just part of our continued focus on providing local people with high quality care and ensuring patients have a smooth experience throughout the local health and social care system.”

Nationally, NHS trusts reported their worst ever performance figures for the second month in a row. A&E waiting times were down, with government targets for cancer treatment waiting times also missed.

Miriam Deakin, director of policy at umbrella group NHS Providers, said: “Trusts are clearly continuing to struggle to meet rising demand. A&E is continuing to see unprecedented pressure with a 7 per cent increase in attendances and 6 per cent increase in emergency admissions.

“Trusts are in the impossible position of having to prioritise those who are most sick and are seeking to manage the knock-on effect this has on cancer and elective care.”

NHS England this month announced plans to scrap its four-hour A&E target. Currently, emergency doctors must treat, admit to hospital, transfer or discharge their patients within four hours of their arrival at A&E. The last time the NHS managed to achieve the target was July 2015.

Under the new regime, rather than trying to treat all patients in under four hours, the sickest will be treated first. So, those with heart attacks, acute asthma, stroke and sepsis should be treated within an hour of arriving at A&E.

Some concerns have been raised that scrapping the target could mean a longer wait for those with less urgent health complaints.