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Friday, 22 May 2015

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Trust which runs Barrow hospital puzzled by rise in A&E patients

HEALTH bosses at the trust which runs Barrow hospital admit they are at a loss to explain a sharp increase in sick patients arriving at the area’s A&E wards.

The trust is set to miss national targets for treating 95 per cent of all emergency admissions within four hours for the first quarter of this year.

Now bosses are set to demand investment in staffing at the A&E departments at Furness General Hospital and Royal Lancaster Infirmary as part of the Better Care Together project, which will oversee a massive reorganisation of local health services.

Both sites have seen a 10 per cent increase in ambulance attendances in April and May 2014 compared to the previous year – an increase of 850 patients.

At a meeting on Wednesday trust board members admitted they didn’t know what was driving the increase, at a time of year when demand normally goes down. In May the trust only managed to see 92 per cent of patients in under four hours, 0.5 per cent down on April.

Juliet Walters, chief operating officer at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: “May was an incredibly difficult month for us. We only achieved 92 per cent and that is nowhere near what we expected.”

Ms Walters said the figures meant the trust would be unable to meet the 95 per cent target for the first quarter of 2014/15. She said: “We have seen over 850 more patients, and that would challenge any organisation.”

Ms Walters said the North West Ambulance Service had seen a 12.2 per cent increase in emergency Red 2 calls in the area. Other problems at the trust included the fact a GP at FGH’s emergency department had left the organisation, leading to a lack of senior decision-making capacity, and lack of bed capacity.

The trust said challenges in accessing care in the community, particularly social care, was leading to significant discharge delays. This includes a lack of nursing home capacity within Furness, described as “of concern”.

Ms Walters said: “We are working with social services and commissioners to make sure people who are medically fit are not in beds.”

An emergency care recovery is in place focused on reducing occupancy to 85-90 per cent by reducing the length of stay for patients admitted to hospital.

A short term recovery plan for additional medical and nursing cover at peak periods has also been completed and is awaiting approval.

Ms Walters said although the actions taken by the trust to manage the problem had received “external validation” from Monitor, it was “very concerning and very demoralising” to miss the targets.

Elsewhere improvements had been noted for ambulance handover times at A&E for FGH, which met the 15 minute average target for taking over care of sick patients. But 52 handovers of between 30-60 minutes and 14 handovers of more than an hour were recorded.

Aaron Cummins, director of finance at the trust, said a commitment had been made to A&E at both FGH and RLI as part of Better Care Together, and investment in staffing levels would be requested.

Business cases have been prepared for the trust in investment in nursing levels and for seven-day-working in the medical units. The cases are under review.

Have your say

Unfortunately the trust is struggling to recruit and retain high quality medical staff. This is because no one who trains in Manchester wants yo be out in the sticks at furness. Only locums will work there as the money paid is good. Unless better commuting routes are built I e a bridge across the bay, furness and consequently morecambe bay nhs is doomed,

Posted by Jayne on 30 June 2014 at 20:53

This is standard UHMB news management, trying to distance themselves from the recent descent into 'special measures' by saying it's all the fault of too many patients. Walters has been there over 2 years, and CE Daniel almost 2 years. What they're doing now is appointing yet another director- 'the Improvement Director'. That Trust Board is getting bigger by the day.

Posted by WilliamT on 29 June 2014 at 20:52

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