Health and care leaders from Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group have hailed unprecedented partnership working and an immense effort from front-line NHS and social care staff for significant improvements in service performance this winter.

In the seven months from June 2017, performance against the national maximum four hour A&E waiting time standard in the county’s emergency departments was one of the strongest in the region.

Over the four winter months to the end of February 2018 91.1% of patients were seen in the four hour waiting standard time compared to 78.2% for the same period last year.

In January, the Trust was ranked 15th out of 137 nationally for its performance in this area.

There was also a substantial reduction in delays for patients fit to leave hospital, a 78% reduction in ambulances waiting over 30 minutes to transfer patients into hospital and considerably fewer cancelled operations.

Dr Andy Seymour, Clinical Chair at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and Chair of the A&E Delivery Board said: "In the face of significant pressure during the difficult winter months, health and social care staff have worked tirelessly together to deliver safe and effective care to local people."

NHS and social care staff have helped patients avoid unnecessary visits, stays in hospital and reduced delays in a range of ways.

GP surgeries offered a greater number of 'on the day appointments' while the ambulance service have been providing clinical advice and treating more patients on the scene.

They also have GP's working in the emergency department and community staff seeing more patients at home or close to home.

There were also an additional 1,500 GP appointments available each week during the winter period.

A key part of the Winter Plan this year was a pilot project to organise trauma and orthopaedic services differently, with patients who require orthopaedic trauma surgery being treated at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, with planned operations, such as hip or knee replacements, being carried out at Cheltenham General Hospital.

The result has been fewer patients having planned orthopaedic operations cancelled and 20% more operations taking place in January 2018, compared to January 2017.

Dr Mark Pietroni, Specialty Director for Unscheduled Care at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust added: "I am incredibly grateful to our staff and those working across health and social care, who have embraced new ways of working to improve outcomes for our patients this winter.

"Not only have we improved performance against the national 4 hour A&E standard, but the experience of patients has also improved."