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550 failures for A&E wait times in East Lancashire
AN action plan has been drawn up after there were more than 550 breaches of four-hour waiting target at East Lancashire’s main accident and emergency unit.
Health bosses only achieved the target for 12 days during September at the Royal Blackburn Hospital – and the rate fell below 90 per cent on at least seven days.
Only case figures from the urgent care centre at Burnley General Hospital have helped to push East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust above their 95 per cent threshold.
This month a raft of measures are set to be undertaken in a bid to reverse the difficulties at the Haslingden Road site.
Hospital bosses have also urged patients to only attend at the A&E department if their ailment is a strict emergency.
The failures have been blamed on unexpectedly high rates of child admissions, and patients turning up at the casualty unit when they could have been dealt with by GPs.
Several key measures have been agreed between the hospital and primary care trust to remedy the problem.
A new urgent care triage service – to shepherd patients who can be dealt with by family doctors - will be piloted.
And new ‘hot clinics’ for paediatric cases will be trialled alongside a GP visiting service.
Former hospital trust chairman Ian Woolley said: “This is accident and emergency ward so any breach of the waiting targets is a concern.
“This means there have been 550 people, with serious conditions, waiting longer than they should have been.”
Mr Woolley has also called upon patients to think carefully about whether their problem needs to be treated by casualty staff – or their local health centre.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said the figures proved his repeated claims that the Royal Blackburn site could not cope with the demands of a 500,000-plus population.
Russ McLean, Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group chairman said: “Personally I am still convinced that the 111 service, which is currently being trialled across Lancashire, is contributing to the huge number of patients who are inappropriately signposted into these services.”
Lynn Wissett, the trust’s chief nurse and deputy chief executive, said the hospital was working closely with primary care partners to review services and address the issue.
She said: “As winter approaches and emergency attendances at hospital increase, it is really important that patients think carefully about where they should access their health and medical care.
“Twenty to thirty-five per cent of all patients that we see within our urgent care centres or emergency department present with minor illnesses that could be treated with a visit to their GP or pharmacist.”