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Hospital admission wait time averages 37 hours on May 9

Beds in the emergency room of the acute care wing at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (File Photograph)

Waiting times for people needing an inpatient bed after arriving at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department averaged almost 37 hours on one day in May, new figures reveal.

The wait time peak, recorded on May 9, tops the 33 hour average recorded on one day in April.

However, the Bermuda Hospitals Board insisted it was doing better, as the average wait time for an inpatient bed for an Emergency Department arrival was 12.6 hours over a two-week period from May 8 to 21.

On four days in that fortnight, average waiting times were more than 18 hours.

Figures released by the hospital for the period show that waiting times peaked at 36.9 hours on a single day last month — May 9.

A BHB spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette: “There was another drop in the 14 day average time it took for patients to get an inpatient bed, from the time an emergency doctor decides to admit them.

“The average over the two weeks fell by 75 minutes — or 1.25 hours — to 12.6 hours from 13.8 hours for the previous two weeks. This compares to 14.9 hours April 10 to 13.

“The number of admissions has stayed relatively consistent over the last six week period.”

The hospital called on friends and family of people being discharged to arrive early in the morning to prevent “bed-blocking”.

The BHB spokeswoman said: “What varies most day-to-day is our ability to discharge patients when they are medically ready.

“This can be seen when the wait for an inpatient bed is significantly higher.

“We regularly have patients medically fit to leave, who experience delays that can be varied and complex preventing them going home or transferring to a nursing home.

“This can be seen at the start of the two-week period under review, when the first three days, and Tuesday, May 9, in particular, were particularly tough.

“That there are sharp peaks that can be four times as high as other days highlights the erratic nature of patient flow that is common in most hospitals.

“If we have a number of patients who unfortunately do experience this longer wait time, we do bring an acute care unit doctor and nurse to the emergency department to ensure care is managed wherever the patients are.

“We once again thank all families and community partners for working with us to ensure patients can leave when they are ready, and by 11am on their day of discharge, to help us make beds for those patients who need an acute care bed.

“While bed capacity was slightly less constrained in this two-week period, the Emergency Department itself was busier over the two-week period, with 1,339 visits, compared to 1,275 visits in the prior two-week period.

“This resulted in slight increases in the time between arrival and triage — 20 minutes compared to 17 minutes — and the median time from arrival to seeing an emergency doctor.

“Outpatient visits and surgical cases were slightly down over this two-week period due to the bank holiday on May 8.”

The figures come after The Royal Gazette revealed that a 76-year-old man was left waiting for a hospital bed for more than two days after arriving in the emergency department.

The BHB warned in March that it will struggle to maintain its facilities or to pay a basic cost-of-living increase to its staff because government funding is not keeping up with medical inflation.

The BHB, which is $16 million short of the funds promised to it by the Government in 2019, said that even if the Government made good on the shortfall, failures to increase the spending cap meant that it had received a single 1 per cent increase in five years.

It emerged this year that the BHB had been short-changed by up to $31.6 million in funding over the past four years.

The BHB and the Government agreed in 2019 that it would receive an annual block grant of $322 million — made up of a government grant, Mutual Reinsurance Fund transfers and taxpayer subsidies — but that financial commitment was never paid in full, resulting in a shortfall.

David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, acknowledged in his Budget address that the hospital had to run on an overdraft, and said the Cabinet had approved a $15 million payment to the BHB and would need to increase funding in the Budget for 2023-24.

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Published June 05, 2023 at 7:50 am (Updated June 05, 2023 at 7:40 am)

Hospital admission wait time averages 37 hours on May 9

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