Too many patients are having to wait too long at Accident and Emergency at Watford General Hospital, according to the latest data.

National guidelines dictate that 95 per cent of all patients should be admitted, discharged or transferred within four hours of arrival at A&E.

But the latest data shows that in May just 79.9 per cent of patients were treated within the target time at the Vicarage Road hospital  – meaning one in every five patients were there for more than four hours.

Taking data from April into account, the percentage of patients being treated within four hours was slightly higher, at 80.5 per cent.

But it is lower than the 85 per cent recorded at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and the 98.8 per cent at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital.

The data was presented to a meeting of the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group’s board on Thursday (September 26).

The report also notes the decline in A&E performance at Watford General Hospital since the same time last year, when it was running at 86.1 per cent.

Following the meeting, a spokesperson for Herts Valleys CCG pointed to the increasing numbers of patients that have come to A&E compared to last year.

She said that between April and September there had been a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of patients arriving at A&E – an additional 3,729 patients.

And she said that that increase had had an impact on the A&E performance figures.

Staff from the CCG are now monitoring waiting times at the A&E department several times a day.

They say they are working “closely” with the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust to reduce the waiting times in A&E and highlighting other health services – such as NHS 111 – that are available.

“Behind the figures it’s important to note that hospital staff work very hard to ensure the safety and comfort of patients,” said the CCG spokesperson.

“Patients are assessed on arrival so that – if needed – they receive antibiotics, fluids and pain relief within a few minutes of arrival by ambulance and are clinically assessed and prioritised so that those with the most serious conditions are seen soonest.

“Herts Valleys CCG is also running campaigns to make sure local people are aware of how they can use the NHS 111 service to help them if they have an urgent health issue so that people only  use A&E services when they have a very serious condition, needing emergency care.

“We are also putting in place new services to support frail patients to help them avoid admission and patients can also see GPs outside of normal working hours – with a service specifically designed for children starting soon.”