SOUTHEND Hospital is under fire from patients angry at delays in receiving treatment.

Latest figures show there has been a sharp rise in complaints to the hospital.

The most common complaints are over treatment times in Accident and Emergency.

In December there was a 72 per cent increase in complaints compared to the same month in 2012.

The emergency department also failed to meet its target of 95 per cent of patients being seen within four hours.

During December only 85.9 per cent were seen in the target time.

For the week ending December 8 it was at its lowest at 78 per cent but the worst performing day was Sunday December 8, when only 53 per cent were seen on time.

Ninety two people waited more than four hours for treatment.

The previous two months the target was met.

In a report to the board of directors it is noted that performance for the whole of the third quarter was 94.07 per cent.

Jon Findlay, chief operating officer at the hospital, apologised to patients and said systems were being put in place to address the situation.

He said: “December was a difficult month as whole for us in meeting our A&E target, which was due to a number of issues including high rates of staff sickness, surges of attendance at particular times and seeing higher numbers of patients with more serious illness who required greater degrees of care.

“We also introduced a new patient administration system across the hospital during this time which saw A&E transfer from a manual system to a fully electronic one – a big change for our staff to adapt to, which despite extensive support being in place, led to delays in patient flow.

A review of the main themes of complaints is to be started and directors will receive an update later this month.

The hospital is also working with the ambulance service to improve turnaround times and handover of patients as this continues to miss its targets.

Last month the Echo reported how on Sunday, January 19, ambulances were diverted from Southend to Basildon A&E as the hospital struggled to cope with the extra demand. The diversion was in place for half an hour.