GREATER numbers of patients are being seen inside the target four hours at Gwent’s two main accident and emergency units, and at other hospital emergency departments.

Improvements in performance against the four-hour waiting-time target in recent months mean the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall Hospitals’ A&E units, and emergency centres at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr and Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan, are collectively performing above the current all-Wales average.

But the ultimate target – that 95 per cent of attending patients should be dealt with inside four hours – remains elusive, not only in Gwent but across Wales.

The latest figures, for July, show that 92.8 per cent of the 14,183 patients attending Gwent emergency units were dealt with inside four hours.

This is the best result for some time and continues a gradual upward trend in performance during the past five months.

All-Wales performance against the four-hour A&E target in July was almost 4 per cent below the Gwent mark, at 88.9 per cent.

Only Hywel Dda Health Board, of the six in Wales with A&E units, bettered Gwent’s July performance, with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which includes the University Hospital of Wales A&E unit, down at 85 per cent.

No board has achieved the 95 per cent target in almost three years, however, despite isolated instances of individual A&E units achieving it for a month or two.

Patients have experienced difficulties at the Royal Gwent’s A&E unit recently, with the Argus reporting last month that when doctors are required to deal with more complex ‘majors’ cases there, those with minor injuries can be left facing a long wait.

But measures have been introduced to try to speed up the whole emergency department process, including new direct access arrangements to allow patients to progress through the hospital system without delay, and new systems to increase morning discharge of patients.