Emergency doctors in Watford General Hospital treated up to 366 patients in a single day over Christmas, councillors have been told.

Over a 12-month period the emergency department at the hospital, which is run by the West Herts Hospitals Trust, now sees more than 100,000 patients.

That’s an average of around 290 a day. And on the busiest day of the festive period they saw 366.

The numbers were revealed to a meeting of the St Albans Health and Wellbeing Partnership on Tuesday (January 28).

The trust’s divisional general manager Stephanie Johnson said that the number of  patients turning up at accident and emergency department was increasing, by around 7.5 per cent.

But she said that despite the increase, the hospital was bucking the national trend and decreasing waiting times.

In March data shows that just 77 per cent of patients at the hospital’s A&E department were seen within four hours – compared to a national ‘median’ of 84.

But more recent data, from November, she said, shows that 82 per cent of patients are seen within the four hours – compared to a national ‘median’ of 79.

“Although not meeting the national standard we are bucking the trend in improving performance,” she said.

“We have had a very strong improvement plan in place that has contributed to this improving performance.”

She said the hospital had implemented a number of measures designed to improve the flow of patients and to treat then as quickly as possible.

An ambulance liaison officer helps with the flow of patients who are brought in by ambulance.

An ‘ambulatory care unit’ runs alongside for those patients who can be dealt with within a day – rather than being admitted to wait for treatment.

And senior consultants – in fields such as general medicine, cardiology and respiratory conditions – also sped time in the department to cut down in delays.

In the future further measures are planned.

A CT scanner in the emergency department means scans will be done quickly and staff will be out of the department less.

The opening of an urgent treatment centre on the Watford General site will mean patients who do not need emergency care can be referred there.

There are also plans to expand the  medical assessment unit before winter 2020.

At the meeting Cllr Dreda Gordon (Lab) asked whether increasing numbers of patients were resented at he hospital because they couldn’t get an appointment at their GP.

Ian Armitage, from Herts Valleys CCG, said the CCG was trying to increase accessibility to GP appointments.

But he said this wasn’t just about appointments with GPs – but that it was human nature to access the service that was most accessible.

Cllr Helen Campbell (Lib Dem) suggested there needed to be better communication  about the role of urgent treatment centres.

Mr Armitage, who accepted that more needed to be done, said having a GP-led urgent treatment centre at the front door of the hospital would help.

Liberal Democrat councillor Josie Madoc – who said she waited 10 hours with her father for his admission to Watford General in December – praised the care at the hospital.

She said: “He had a 10-hour wait in A&E before being admitted. The care he received during that time was outstanding. He was treated extremely well – thank you from me.”

At the meeting committee chair Cllr Robert Donald (Lib Dem) also reported a visit to Watford General’s A&E department where he had accompanied someone who waited for 13 hours for a bed.