Latest report reveals struggles faced by NHS in Blackpool and Fylde Coast

The latest annual health report for the Fylde coast paints a grim picture of how the NHS is struggling to keep up with demand for services.

Cancer patients are among those facing longer waits for treatment with the number of referrals across Lancashire and Cumbria having increased by more than 30 per cent, putting more pressure on medics.

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The annual report of the Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for 2021/22 shows only 12 performance targets out of 43 were achieved.

A&E has been under pressure

In March 2022 there were nearly 25,000 patients on the waiting list at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals (BTH), up by 6,000 compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile the well documented pressure on emergency services means nearly 5,000 patients waited more than 12 hours in A&E before a decision was made to admit them in 2021/22 compared to 294 in 2020/21.

The report, which was due to be presented to the council's adult social care and health scrutiny committee on Thursday July 23, says "work continues to be focused at speciality level to reduce the number of long waiting patients".

This includes tracking patients on a weekly basis "to ensure that all patients are treated in order of clinical priority."

Health chiefs are also trying to cut waiting lists by using private health facilities to increase capacity with the most sick patients given priority "followed by long waiting patients being treated in turn."

Patients are being discharged more quickly where possible to maximise the availability of hospital beds, while GPs can contact hospital consultants for advice before making a hospital referral.

Outpatient telephone or video consultations are now expected to take place at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals as the preferred method of consultation.

Measures have helped cut the number of patients waiting more than a year for treatment to 742 in March 2022, compared to 1,717 the previous March.

The report adds: "The Trust is working closely with system partners to improve system flow, avoid unnecessary admissions and support hospital discharges.

"An additional 58 beds have been commissioned in Fylde Coast care homes which enables patients who no longer require high acuity care to be stepped down to nursing care in preparation for returning home. "

Health services have failed to meet the target of 93 per cent of cancer patients being given an urgent appointment within two weeks, having achieved the target in 2020/21.

Performance in relation to cancer patients for the CCG has deteriorated from 93.50 per cent in 2020/21 to 88.19 per cent and BTH performance has deteriorated to 88.54 per cent from 96.16 per cent in 2020/21.

The report says: "Across providers in Lancashire and South Cumbria in 2021/22 there has been a significant increase in the number of referrals into the 2ww (two week wait) pathway.

"In 2020/21 there were 14,026 referred to BTH whilst in 2021/22 there were 18,431 patients referred, this is an increase of 31.4 per cent.

"A mix of complex factors has also affected waiting times including patient choice, isolation following a positive Covid-19 test and staff sickness due to Covid-19 all of which affect capacity.

"The Cancer Alliance is working with BTH to review pathways to improve efficiency and reduce waiting times for patients."