Blackpool Victoria Hospital A&E saw 'unprecedented' demand this winter with 17 per cent more patients

The busiest day in A&E saw a 36 per cent rise compared to normal
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Demand for emergency care at Blackpool Victoria Hospital was up 17 per cent this winter in what has been branded 'unprecedented' pressure on services.

The worst day saw a 36 per cent increase in patients attending A&E, a meeting of the Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS  Trust board was told. Over the past 12 months overall hospital attendances have increased to a monthly average of around 6,800, which is up from 6,500 in previous years.

This winter has seen increased pressure on A&EThis winter has seen increased pressure on A&E
This winter has seen increased pressure on A&E
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Trust chief executive Trish Armstrong-Child told the meeting "people were really sick when they reached our doors" with 11 per cent of attendances being category one - or the most serious.

She added: "We have also seen a 17 per cent increase in our ambulance arrivals over the winter period and pressure has felt extremely difficult on some days.

"I'm a seasoned person in working in hospitals in winter, this is my 35th one of them, and it certainly has been a tough one. We have had some very difficult days where we exceeded capacity in the emergency department.

"There was a day a couple of weeks ago where we actually saw a 36 per cent increase in one day of people coming through that door.So it has been extremely challenging, but thank goodness we had the emergency village prepared before we went into winter. That has helped."

Facilities at the Emergency Village helped ease pressureFacilities at the Emergency Village helped ease pressure
Facilities at the Emergency Village helped ease pressure
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Ms Armstrong-Child, who was attending her final board meeting before she retires at the end of the month, said industrial action by junior doctors who went on strike for five days in February, had added to the pressures.

Deputy chief executive Steve Christian said the 17 per cent increase in ambulance demand was 'unprecedented for any health care system, especially one for the demographic we have here."

However he said there had been a year-on-year reduction in ambulance lost hours of 632 - the amount of time an ambulance has been waiting outside A&E before it can hand over a patient.

He said in terms of performance Blackpool A&E had moved from being the 21st worst in the North West region, to being the 14th worst.

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He said: "Improvements and progress is being delivered, however 14th isn't good enough for this local population and staff. So we must maintain the focus and endeavour.There is some great work at the front door  and we now need to shift attention to general internal medicine flow."

This means optimising patient discharges by working with partners to ensure people can receive better out-of-hospital care, thus freeing up hospital beds.

Mr Christian said this was 'critical'  in order to reduce waiting times for people needing routine operations. Despite the pressures the hospital has reduced the number of patients on the waiting list, although there are  still currently 274 patients waiting more than 65 weeks  for treatment. But Mr Christian said the backlog was being cleared at a rate of 70 patients a week and would be gone by September.

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