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A&E bailout cash welcomed in East Lancashire
PLANS to create a bailout fund of £500million for troubled accident and emergency (A&E) departments have been welcomed by patients in East Lancashire.
The cash, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron, will be used to bolster emergency rooms during winter months, when staff often struggle with a spike in attendances.
The government has not yet decided which areas will receive a share of the pot, but East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust is likely to be near the top of the list.
The trust, which runs the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals, was placed in special measures last month following a highly critical report by NHS inspectors.
The report cited problems at the A&E department in Blackburn, where staff have struggled to cope with the number of patients wanting treatment.
Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: “I would obviously welcome the investment and I hope it’s used to pay for more staff.
“I’m seriously worried because A&E is under enormous pressure at the moment, and God only knows what it’ll be like in the winter. I think it could be in serious trouble.”
The funding aims to get patients treated promptly, with fewer delays in A&E, and for other patients to get the care, prescriptions or advice they need without going to the emergency ward. Prime Minister David Cameron said: “While A&E departments are performing well this summer and at a level we would expect for this time of year, I want the NHS to take action now to prepare for the coming winter.
“The additional funding will go to hospitals where the pressure will be greatest, with a focus on practical measures that relieve pinch points in local services.”
Some experts have blamed issues in primary care, saying patients feel they have nowhere to turn once GP surgeries close. Major problems with the new 111 service for non-urgent care are also thought to have impacted on A&E.
Last month, MPs on the Health Select Committee found just 17 per cent of hospitals had the recommended level of consultant cover and highlighted problems with discharging patients and finding enough beds for those who needed to be seen.
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