BARNSLEY Hospital’s accident and emergency department has been rated as one of the top four in the country, according to new NHS data.

The figures from NHS Digital and NHS England show that Barnsley saw 101,927 patients through the doors of its A and E between April 2019 and March 2020.

Of these, 93,273 were seen within the four-hour target introduced by the Department of Health in 2004 - a success rate of 91.5 per cent.

Of the four hospitals that saw more than 90 per cent of patients waiting for four hours or less, only Homerton University Hospital in London treated more patients than Barnsley - with Yeovil District Hospital and Sheffield Children’s Hospital ranking higher, but both seeing around half of the patients Barnsley did through the year.

“It is very welcome news that Barnsley Hospital’s A and E department is one of the top performing in the country in terms of meeting the four-hour waiting time target,” said Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis.

“This is testament to the hard work and dedication of our incredible NHS staff here in Barnsley.

“My heartfelt thanks and gratitude goes out to them all.”

While the figures don’t take into account the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown months, monthly statistics show that Barnsley maintained its performance from March until June - seeing an average of 5,815 patients a month with 93 per cent seen within four hours.

July and August have seen the rates slip to 88.7 per cent and 86 per cent respectively.

A recent report issued to Barnsley Hospital’s board of directors by Andrew Potts, deputy director of operations, said the department’s clinical decision unit has ceased to function while its accommodation is used for resuscitation - contributing to the reduction in performance.

An increase in admissions combined with ‘infection control segregation measures’ also resulted in longer wait times for beds.

The report added: “A number of actions are being taken to address these issues including the establishment of a temporary clinical decision unit and reduced turnaround time for Covid19 test results.”

The department has been configured so that all patients are directed to an external reception area and only Covid-19 patients use the department’s main entrance - while non-Covid-19 patients are treated in the former physiotherapy area.

Emergency department consultant Dr David Walker said: “It’s really important that people coming to hospital pay attention to our new arrangements at our emergency department.

“We understand people are anxious when they come into hospital and this new way of working will enable us to focus separately on patients who need specific support in relation to coronavirus and on those who need more general emergency department support.

“At the same time, it’s also crucial to remember we all have a part to play in looking after our own health.

“Please only come to the hospital if it’s essential.”

The department has been buoyed by a £3.9m grant from the government to prepare for its first post-Covid winter.

The funding was announced last month as part of the government’s measures to upgrade hospital infrastructure and reduce the risk of further outbreaks.

Barnsley’s cash, part of a £300m pot spread across 117 NHS Trusts, will see it expand waiting areas and increase numbers of treatment cubicles, reducing overcrowding and making infection control easier.

It comes alongside news that treatment for South Yorkshire’s Covid-19 patients will now be centralised in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, which will free up beds in district general hospitals such as Barnsley.