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Monday, 06 July 2015

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A&E patients waiting more than four hours

A LACK of beds is leading to patients in the area’s A&E departments facing lengthy delays.

After a good start to the year, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Furness General Hospital in Barrow and Royal Lancaster Infirmary failed to meet targets for the last quarter of 2013/14.

The trust is required to treat 95 per cent of patients an A&E in under four hours.

The target was not met in the first quarter of the previous financial year but the trust had met the target in the middle two quarters.

However the last quarter, January February and March this year, saw the trust slip to 93 per cent.

A meeting of the UHMBT board of directors heard the slippage was due in part to a spike in the length of stay per patient over winter.

Demand for emergency care varies significantly both in the numbers of patients attending the A&E departments as well as the seriousness of those patients’ needs.

The meeting heard the number of ambulances arriving at A&E on any one day can vary by up to 100 per cent and therefore the number of patients needing admission can similarly vary.

A report to directors said: “Significant fluctuations in demand can occur from one week to the next.

“In the winter months there is a small increase in the number of admissions and an increase in length of stay for emergency medical admissions.

“This means that there are approximately 15 per cent more patients in medical beds at any one time as compared to the summer months.

“The trust was unable to secure sufficient numbers of registered nurses to open additional medical capacity in order to accommodate the extra length of stay.”

Nigel Palmer, divisional general manager acute and emergency medicine, said lack of nursing staff meant the trust was struggling to open more beds.

The trust has developed an emergency care recovery plan, which will focus on recruiting nursing staff in time for next winter.

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