FURNESS patients waited longer for A&E treatment last month than patients in other areas of the North West.

According to University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT) statistics, 74.20 per cent of A&E patients were treated within the four-hour target last month. This compares against 83.10 per cent at Southport and Ormskirk Trust, 81.90 per cent at Blackpool, 76.40 per cent at Lancashire Trust and 76.00 per cent in Warrington.

The only nearby trust included in the data set that fell below UHMBT was in Oldham, where 73.90 per cent of A&E patients were admitted or discharged in under four hours.

NHS data indicates that last month was the health service’s busiest on record, with A&E attendance rates up five per cent across the country compared to 2018. Cumulative A&E  attendance rises have added up to a 14.2 per cent increase over the past three years alone.

Dr Shahedal Bari, UHMBT’s Medical Director, said: “Our Emergency Departments...have been extremely busy throughout the winter months. However, it isn’t good enough that people have had to wait longer...so we have been working hard with colleagues across the healthcare system to improve flow through our Emergency Departments.

“While the figure for December 2019 is the lowest amongst our nearby trusts in Lancashire, we still ensured that three quarters of people attending our Emergency Departments were either discharged or admitted within four hours, at what has been one of the busiest times of the year for our emergency services.”

He said UHMBT is working on new ‘escalation’ beds at FGH in an effort to mitigate NHS winter pressures.