A&E sees spike in patient numbers

Rich Morton (left), a community first responder, and Dan Farnworth outside Home Bargains in Marton, where a shopper collapsed in-store

Rich Morton (left), a community first responder, and Dan Farnworth outside Home Bargains in Marton, where a shopper collapsed in-store

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Medics working across Blackpool have been praised for their efforts after dealing with thousands of patients over the busiest ever festive period.

Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s A&E and Urgent Care Centre, as well as the Walk-In Centre in Whitegate Drive saw and treated 535 patients every day between December 24 and January 2 – an increase of two per cent compared to last year – and a total of 5,346.

“We would like to thank everyone who worked extremely hard over the Christmas and New Year period across all NHS services to help people in need and deliver high quality, safe care for our patients, especially as there was a definite increase in the acute nature of illnesses treated this year and more people had to be admitted to hospital,” the hospital said in a joint statement with Blackpool and Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

It is not yet know how many patients turning up at A&E were seen within hour years, the target set by the government. NHS England publishes those figures monthly.

But residents have been urged once again to only use NHS services when they really need to, after The Gazette revealed before Christmas how some people were turning up at casualty needlessly, including one mum who took her child because they had dog muck on their shoe.

“We would like to remind people about the important of thinking carefully about whether their injury or illness really is an accident or an emergency, as for many people there are alternatives to attending an emergency department that can help them get the right treatment more easily and quickly,” the statement added.

Most common aches, pains, and winter illnesses being to clear up within a few days, and residents should avoid making a GP appointment, calling 999, or visiting A&E, it said.

A pharmacy should be contacted for advice, while NHS Choices offers self-care advice online.

Those in a life-threatening situation, for example with a suspected heart attack or chest pain, unconsciousness, heavy blood loss, suspected broken bones, deep wounds, severe breathing difficulties, or head injuries should call 999 or attend A&E.

The hospital, in Whinney Heys Road, is coping with an extra 10,000 patients a year compared to 2009/10, while A&E has seen a seven per cent increase.

Millions of pounds in government funding is at risk if waiting times targets aren’t hit, and went into winter with a an average of 89.51 per cent of A&E patients being seen within four hours.

The national target is 95 per cent.

If the trust fails to hit that target by the end of the financial year, it said it will lose up to £1m funding, and could fail to break even, which it must do to qualify for 70 per cent of £10m funding it has already budgeted for.

Recovery and winter plans have now been put in place, Blackpool CCG, which organises and pays for residents’ healthcare said, while hospital chief executive Wendy Swift said contingency plans were in place to stop the trust plunging into the red.