'Critical incident' reported at Blackpool Victoria Hospital amid surge in patients turning up to A&E

A critical incident was declared at Blackpool Victoria Hospital due to the "continued increase in demand and high numbers of extremely unwell patients" turning up to A&E.

Friday, 29th October 2021, 12:03 pm
Updated Friday, 29th October 2021, 2:27 pm

Trish Armstrong-Child, boss at the Whinney Heys Road hospital, said in a statement: "In doing so, it has enabled us to take a number of actions to try and relieve the pressures in the hospital."

The hospital was this morning asked what those actions were.

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Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Ms Armstrong-Child added: "We are working closely with other health and social care partners to do all we can to prioritise our patients requiring acute hospital care and increase the flow of patients out of the hospital.

"We are also seeking mutual support where possible.

“We will continue to work hard to address the level of demand on our services and urge the public to help us, too, by using alternative health care support unless they are experiencing serious or life-threatening illnesses.

"Our colleagues are doing an incredible job in very challenging circumstances. Please continue to support them by accessing the most appropriate care – call NHS 111 first, this is a 24-hour service providing professional advice to get you the right care in the right place at the right time.”

It comes just days after The Gazette told how hundreds of people are pouring through the doors of A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital every day and are waiting hours to be seen.

Those needing to visit casualty were being warned they “will have a long wait to be managed and processed if your condition is not an emergency or urgent” and urged to be “patient if you still choose to attend”.

It comes as electronic signs outside the hospital, in Whinney Heys Road, today said there were 61 people sat in A&E, with the longest wait to see a doctor being five hours and 36 minutes.

The longest time to be triaged by a nurse – the first medical step at A&E – was given as 54 minutes, with the average time spent in the department listed as three and a half hours.

One source said yesterday there was a lengthy wait for Covid beds, with “patients being kept on ambulances”, with “up to six in the queue currently”.

It was a similar picture last week, they said.

Vic bosses recently installed a new audio system which airs “subtle” messages in various accents to “encourage patients to consider alternative services for their next health intervention”.

That’s on the back of figures that show few people were calling 111 first – and that the Vic was failing to hit its target of treating 95 per cent of people within four hours of their arrival at A&E.

Documents shown to bosses last month revealed that number so far this year was 83.16 per cent.

Some patients, particularly those suffering from mental illnesses, were forced to wait over 12 hours – a breach of target.

The papers also revealed concern over delays in handovers – the process of paramedics passing patients over into the care of hospital staff.

They added: “The easing of lockdown has significantly increased the number of ED attendances – overwhelming the ED/trust.”

Over the summer, the number of patients turning up to casualty topped 250 daily, with the department struggling with social distancing.

An action plan put in place to ease the pressure was put in place and was being reviewed twice weekly.

But talks were held between deputy chief executive Prof Nick Latham and director Mark Beaton, who said the £13m work to overahaul A&E and build an ‘emergency village’ may not be enough to cope over the long-term.

On Wednesday, medical director Dr Jim Gardner said there had been a “pretty dramatic increase” in the number of people being treated in hospital for Covid.

He said the surge was “putting additional pressure on the system”.

Speaking during a coronavirus briefing, Dr Gardner said 87 patients within 14 days of a first positive Covid test were in hospital – up from 54 last Wednesday – plus 39 who are “in because of Covid but are beyond 14 days”.

Some 77 people were in general beds at the Vic, seven were in the intensive care unit there, while three were at Clifton Hospital in St Annes.

“Sixty-seven patients are over the age of 65 and, in fact, 26 are over the age of 85,” Dr Gardner said.

“I haven’t got a breakdown of the full immunisation status for all of them but some will have had two immunisations and will have benefitted from that, there’s no question.

“But the point I want to get across is that we are seeing Covid affecting again the older population who are coming into hospital.

"Even though we are seeing more infections in the younger population, we are seeing more hospitalisations in the older population.”

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