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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Cumbrian nursing chief blames Government over failure to hit A&E targets

Winter has hit north Cumbria’s hospitals as medical staff battle to cope with an influx of patients.

Nursing photo

Both the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven have seen a rise people attending A&E.

This in turn has led to North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the two sites, missing its targets.

The Government states that 95 per cent of people attending accident and emergency should be seen within four hours.

Figures are released weekly by NHS England to ensure that there is transparency within our hospitals service.

In the week ending December 22, 93.5 per cent of people were seen within the target time. This was down 0.3 per cent on the previous week.

However, the trust fell far short of its target in the first full week of last month – from December 2 to 8 – with one in 10 patients being left waiting for more than four hours. Only 88.9 per cent of were seen in the time frame.

Glenn Turp, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing, said:“Winter is a particularly challenging time for the NHS across England, but the simple fact is that without sufficient resources from central Government, Cumbria’s specific pressures cannot be adequately managed.

“It is clearly unacceptable for a significant number of patients to have to wait between four hours and 12 hours before they are admitted to hospital.”

He added: “This is a capacity issue, plain and simple. We need the Government to provide sufficient resources to allow trusts like North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust to provide a quality service 365 days a year, regardless of winter pressures.”

A spokeswoman for the hospitals trust said that its staff were putting in place their winter contingency plan as it prepares to deal with what is traditionally one of the busiest times for hospitals.

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen a higher number of admissions and the patients we saw were very-ill and had complex needs,” she added. “Our staff have worked exceptionally hard over the entire festive period to ensure that patients have received the care they need and in the most appropriate setting and worked well as cohesive and supportive teams.

“There is a bed management meeting held three times a day to ensure that patient flow is working effectively in the hospitals.

“This is co-ordinated through our new Clinical Communication Centre which is based in the atrium [of the infirmary] and works closely with all clinical services and wards on admission and discharge plans.”

She confirmed that 35 elective procedures had been cancelled across both hospitals in December, but 32 were due to clinical decisions, such as the patient no longer requiring surgery or being too poorly.

Three cancellations were due to availability of staff.

“Where patients are cancelled our aim is to re-admit within 28 days,” the spokeswoman said.

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