NEW figures reveal Colchester Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department met a target for seeing patients for the first month since records began.

But the figure is boosted because it includes patients who also visited north Essex’s minor injury units at Clacton and Harwich, as well as the walk-in centre in Turner Road, Colchester.

The figure, published by NHS Digital, shows Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust managed to see 95.4 per cent of those admitted to A&E within four hours in March.

The national target is 95 per cent since the standard was introduced in 2010.

In contrast, trusts elsewhere in the UK were said to have the worst waiting time performance since records began.

The national average for March was just 84.6 per cent.

A Colchester Hospital spokeswoman said: “The overall figure of 95.4 per cent includes the percentage of patients who were seen within four hours in minor injury or walk-in centres in north east Essex as well, so it shows that as a partnership we are keeping our promises to patients.”

Data was unavailable for the exact proportion of people who visited Colchester’s A&E or the other non-urgent alternatives.

But the spokeswoman added: “Keeping our promise to patients to be seen and treated within four hours in the Emergency Department is really important to us.

“We have worked hard and the staff have worked extremely hard to significantly improve our performance and it is very pleasing to see this reflected in our latest data.

“We are determined to both maintain and improve on our performance going forward.”

The spokeswoman said the improved performance was thanks to how the hospital had worked to improve its “patient flow”.

She added: “This is people being seen by the right people at the right time, for the right treatment and so they are not waiting, which means we are able to give patients a much better experience.”

In January this year 92.5 patients were seen within four hours.

Winter pressures have been largely blamed for hospitals not meeting the target.

NHS bosses have been keen to ensure people only come to A&E if they have genuine life-threatening emergencies, such as breathing difficulties and severe bleeding that cannot be stopped.

Less severe injuries can be treated in urgent care centres or minor injuries units.

Last month the Gazette revealed Colchester General Hospital is to undergo a £35 million overhaul centred on its accident and emergency department.

Cash has been awarded from the Department for Health.

It will see the busy yet relatively small department completely redesigned.

Colchester and Ipswich hospitals are set to merge in July but each will keep their A&E departments as well as obstetric-led maternity units.