A chief of the trust which runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals said a “very high demand” is piling pressure on accident and emergency waiting times.

New figures show one in four people waited more than four hours to be seen when they attended hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) last month.

NHS England data shows there were 25,581 visits to A&E at its hospitals in September and of them, 19,121 were seen within four hours, accounting for 75%.

It means the trust fell just short of the NHS’ recovery target for 76% of patients to be seen in that time frame.

East Anglian Daily Times: Colchester Hospital is also part of ESNEFTColchester Hospital is also part of ESNEFT (Image: Newsquest)

Dr Angela Tillet, chief medical officer at the trust, said staff are doing “our very best” to reduce delays for patients.

She said: “We often have a very high demand on our services, particularly in our accident and emergency departments, and our emergency and urgent care teams work extremely hard every day to make sure we care for patients as quickly as possible.

“Each patient is clinically assessed and prioritised in terms of clinical need when they arrive so we can be sure that those with the most urgent needs are seen first.

East Anglian Daily Times: Pledge - Dr Angela Tillett said ESNEFT teams are working hard to reduce A&E waiting timesPledge - Dr Angela Tillett said ESNEFT teams are working hard to reduce A&E waiting times (Image: Newsquest)

“However, this does mean some people wait longer than we would like them to.”

The government changed NHS waiting time targets earlier this year as part of a two-year recovery plan to stabilise its services.

The move saw a pledge for 95% of patients to be seen within four hours slashed to 76%.

Dr Tillett added: “We try to keep the amount of time patients spend in our emergency departments to a minimum, working closely with teams across the health and social care services to ensure that patient care is provided within the community and as close to home as possible.

“We are doing our very best to reduce delays for patients but would also encourage our communities to make sure they support the NHS by using services appropriately.”