Blackpool Victoria Hospital warns of tough winter ahead as it draws up £3.7m action plan
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Blackpool Teaching Hospitals (BTH) has already issued alerts warning people of long waits in A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital due to the high numbers of patients arriving.
Respiratory infections, widespread infectious diseases including Norovirus, and the risk of pandemic flu are expected to contribute to more people needing hospital care on top of normal demand.
A report to the BTH board says the hospital has already seen pressure mounting during the year to major incident levels (known as Opel 4) normally only seen at the height of winter.
The report warns: “Each winter, our BTH sites experience increased pressure in patient flow.
“This year however, the trust has already seen an unprecedented rise in activity with the declaration of Opel 4, which historically happens in the height of winter, having already taken place at intervals all year.
“It is therefore crucial that BHT make detailed plans and arrangements to better equip itself with the anticipated surge on the horizon.”
Predictions suggest demand for hospital beds could rise this winter to a high point of 827 in February – with only 764 available.
The report warns of a potential four per cent increase in bed day demand during winter, the equivalent of 25 additional medical beds being required per day between December and April and five per cent more A&E attendances than planned for in 2023-24.
This year’s winter plan for BTH includes 65 schemes, with priority one and priority two schemes requiring funding of £3.7m.
Among initiatives which bosses hope will help alleviate pressure is use of virtual wards (where patients are monitored and treated at home), increasing capacity in community nursing and measures to protect the wellbeing of staff to reduce sickness and absence during the winter.
There are currently 68 virtual ward beds available at BTH, but only 17 regularly being used but it is hoped to increase this to 34.
The report adds: “BVH continues to experience unprecedented demand for emergency services, and it is likely that winter pressures will bring a heightened demand and volume of activity into the organisation.