Bosses at Blackpool Victoria Hospital today told how efforts to halt a winter A&E crisis have proved a success.
Each year there is a major increase in the number of people visiting Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s emergency department.
It’s a trend that’s echoed nationally, regularly hits the headlines –and something which health bosses at Blackpool have been working hard to prevent.
Today, senior consultants said the hospital’s Urgent Care Centre – the GP-led service next to the emergency department where people can go when their doctor is not available and the situation is not an emergency – has been a major success story.
The Vic’s A&E consultant Simon Tucker said: “Before this centre was here, we know that 25 per cent of what was coming into the emergency department could have been better treated by a GP service.
“This service is great for patients because if they are in the emergency department and are low priority and then a patient comes in who is not breathing or who has had a heart attack or a stroke they will be seen to ahead of the minor patients and the minor patients are waiting longer.
“Sometimes people have been waiting three hours just to get antibiotics but they can be given faster at the GP-led service.”
Mr Tucker said fewer people are coming into the emergency department since the Urgent Care Centre opened.
He added: “We want to make people aware of the resources available to them so that in the future they can choose better.
“Sometimes people come into the emergency department because they don’t know where else to go.
“It’s all about educating the public that the emergency department should not be their first port of call.”
The Vic has hit the headlines this year for its higher then expected mortality figures. As well has harming its reputation nationally, it’s news that affects patients and the people who work there.
But Mr Tucker said it was inspiring how his staff had made a determined effort to improve the service.
“We are very proud of the service that we provide and we don’t like the label we have been given,” he said.
“No-one likes to fail.
“We are not saying we are the best out there as there are always things we can improve on, but we are dedicated to making things better.
“Things are a lot more structured now and more standardised across the hospital.”
Mr Tucker described Blackpool as a “unique environment” because of the amount of people suffering with chronic illness.
He said: “We have a high mortality because of issues that are unique to Blackpool. We have the highest rate of suicide among young men and the highest rates of liver disease and cancer.
“What we have to do is look at how we can reduce avoidable deaths by using these strategies.
“We look at if there was anything better we could have done for patients who have died in our care.
“We look for recurring themes and what we can do to put a stop to them. We look at whether that death was preventable and in 95 per cent of cases, deaths here are not preventable – these patients are severely ill with an overwhelming illness they are not going to survive.
“It is really disappointing when we see the reports about our mortality but what’s interesting is that none of our staff stick their heads in the sand.”