Patients are ignoring advice to call 111 before turning up to A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital - which is being 'overwhelmed' by 250 people every day

Hundreds of people are pouring through the doors of A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital every day and are waiting hours to be seen, it was revealed.

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 3:45 pm

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.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 (Picture: Kelvin Stuttard for The Gazette)

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.

As of last Wednesday, there were 33 Covid patients on the general wards and “six or more” fighting for their lives in intensive care, medical director Dr Jim Gardner said during a briefing.

He added: “All of the NHS is incredibly busy. What we are seeing is real pressure now in social care as well.

“There are patients in hospital who are really waiting now to go home or go back to care homes and we really need as much help as possible from the whole community – friends, family – to look after each other and get people out of hospital and back to where one would assume they would like to be, either in their homes or in a care home to move forward.”

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.

In a statement, Dr Gardner said this afternoon: “The trust has been experiencing very high numbers of people coming into hospital every day and night for care and treatment and particularly through the accident and emergency department at Blackpool Victoria for a long period of time.

“We have had over 100 people in the Emergency Department at some times which has been very difficult indeed and has affected our waiting time to be seen.

"This level of demand puts pressure on the entire hospital and, in particular colleagues in A&E, who are working diligently and incredibly hard to help as many people as possible.

“The trust, as part of the wider health and social care system across Lancashire and South Cumbria, is actively doing everything possible not only to manage this demand but also reduce our waiting lists and see as many people for elective treatment as soon as possible at the same time.

"The pressure on people and our services is huge and we are considering every possible way to improve the situation for patients, their families and our colleagues."

He added: “We are asking members of the community to help us by thinking about the best way to get the advice or treatment needed.

"Please only come to A&E if the problem is urgent or life-threatening, consider visiting your local pharmacy, contacting your GP or using 111 by phone or online to help find the right service for you."

It is thanks to our loyal readers that we can continue to provide the trusted news, analysis and insight that matters to you. For unlimited access to our unrivalled local reporting, you can take out a subscription here and help support the work of our dedicated team of reporters.