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Fears over East Lancashire hospital bed shortage
11:41am Friday 2nd November 2012 in News
CONTINGENCY plans are being drawn up to combat fears that East Lancashire Hospitals could be hundreds of beds short this winter.
Bosses at the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT), which runs the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Hospitals, have identified 41 days between November and the end of March 2013, where there is likely to be a deficit in the number of medical beds, and 47 days where there is a deficit of surgical beds.
In the past four years activity for the winter period at ELHT has increased 24.3 per, and this year it is forecast there will be an increased activity of five per cent on 2011/12.
Lynn Wissett, chief nurse at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said there was a ‘robust plan’ to make sure winter demand was managed effectively.
She said: “It is very hard to predict flows in non-elective care (unplanned admissions) as we don’t see the same patients with the same conditions and demand does fluctuate.
“Our plan is based on a forecasted increase in activity of five per cent on 2011/12 and provides an additional 57 beds this year across the Trust and we have opened three other medical wards which gives us a further 66 beds.
“We also have the flexibility within the trust to put a number of short-term temporary beds in specific areas (on specific wards) to accommodate patients if necessary.”
According to the Winter Resilience Plan 2012/13, key areas where there could be problems, include paediatrics, neonatal instensive care (NICU), obstetrics and gynaecology. At times of extreme pressure, the trust said there are plans to operate a nurse-led ward at the Burnley General site, increase use of home-based checks, reduce and transfer elective work, and deploy community staff to identifying patients appropriate for discharge.
Neighbouring Trusts would also be contacted to secure assistance where possible.
Coun Ron O’Keefee, chairman of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Com mittee for Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “I’m glad that they’re doing these plans.
“It’s a pity that the scrutiny committee don’t get an advanced report of what the hospitals are planning, because otherwise we can’t see if there is a problem.”