Winter plan in place to cope with strain on NHS services

Hospitals are failing to hit waiting time targets
Hospitals are failing to hit waiting time targets

Several measures have been taken to cope with pressure on local health services over the winter period.

They include more beds being made available at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, extra emergency appointment slots at GP practices, a pharmacy opening on Christmas Day, and additional emergency dentist sessions.

More paramedics will be on duty in the north west, while assistance will be sought from charities such as the British Red Cross, St John Ambulance, as well as private ambulance services, if needed and budgets allow.

The NHS 111 helpline will also recruit and train extra staff, members of the local health scrutiny committee were told at a meeting held at the town hall last night.

They were briefed by bosses from several health organisations, including David Bonson, the chief operating officer at Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Graham Curry, the section manager for south and Fylde at the North West Ambulance Service, and Neil Upson, the deputy director of operations at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“The winter period creates particular challenges fro the entire health economy, regardless of the additional pressures of pandemic disease or severe weather,” documents said.

“This year is anticipated to be no exception but this winter will be set against the background of various NHS reconfigurations, adult social care challenges, increased demand, staff deficiencies, and the continued driver for efficiencies.”

Last week, people were urged to only attend A&E if necessary, after one parent took her child because they had dog muck on their shoe.