The ageing population in Milton Keynes is one of the key factors in causing longer waiting times at A&E, according to hospital bosses.
Joe Harrison, chief executive at Milton Keynes Hospital, spoke to the Citizen this week following a surge in the number of people waiting more than four hours to be admitted over Christmas.
He said that the city’s growing number of elderly people was impacting on other parts of the hospital, particularly A&E.
Mr Harrison said: “All of the figures show that patients are spending longer in our beds. We’re seeing more patients with critical illnesses, and across Milton Keynes we’re seeing a 10 per cent increase in the number of people dying.
“We currently have an extra 68 beds open, but more beds aren’t the answer - we want people to be at home or at a place of their choosing when they are recuperating. That’s better for patients, it’s what they want, and it also relieves pressure on other parts of the hospital, particularly A&E.”
However Mr Harrison was able to point to a number of developments which showed how Milton Keynes Hospital was planning for the future, following the recent expansiion of A&E.
The hospital opened its new medical school with the University of Buckingham last week, while a new academic centre will open in six weeks’ time, freeing up other parts of the site for treating patients.
The hospital reception is also being relocated to near the multi-storey car park, with bosses planning to use the current site for a new clinical facility close to A&E.
And a new purpose-built cancer department is set to be completed in 2016/17.
Mr Harrison said: “One of the things we’re clear about is that we are expanding our clinical space.
“Moving our reception is one clear demonstration of that, because it will free up a key part of the hospital right next to A&E.”
The future of A&E at Milton Keynes is currently being debated by regional health chiefs, with either Milton Keynes or Bedford Hospital likely to have their emergency department significantly downgraded.
The Citizen is currently campaigning for a new A&E in Milton Keynes.
Mr Harrison said: “It’s fantastic to have the support of the Citizen and of the public, as we look to move forward in the way that we want to.”