‘Radical changes’ are being made at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in a bid to improve care, bosses have revealed.
Wards have been moved around so patients can be seen quicker and more efficiently, while a new unit has also been opened so people can be treated and sent home without being admitted.
The changes are part of a new five-year strategy, which is also aimed at saving cash at a time when the hospital trust’s bank balance has plummeted from £27.4m in 2013 to an expected £200,000 at the end of this year.
Medical director Prof Mark O’Donnell said: “We know the longer you stay in hospital, the more likely you are to experience a complication and that’s not good.
“If we can bring that down, that will improve the quality of care that patients are getting.”
And, speaking to The Gazette, chief executive Wendy Swift added: “If we keep people out of hospital that will save money.”
The strategy, partly brought in following governors’ concerns the old one was financially unsustainable, will also see medics provide more uniform care, make better use of technology, work more with local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and other hospitals, and further develop the recently launched extensive care service, which sees patients with long term health problems placed on a special programme in a bid to keep them out of hospital.
By 2020, the trust hopes to reduce mortality rates, bring the average length of stay down from 4.2 to three days, and reduce staff vacancies from 4.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent.
Prof O’Donnell added: “The difference we hope people will see with all we are doing is they’re getting a better service.”
The new ambulatory care unit, which opened on June 20 and is led by a consultant, saw 80 per cent of 451 patients treated and sent home on the same day during the first five weeks.
Previously, they could have faced a stay on a ward.
The trust, which recorded a deficit of £17m last year, more than an expected £11m, must break even this year to qualify for a 70 per cent of a vital £10m Sustainability and Transformation Fund from the government.
It must hit A&E, referral, and cancer treatment waiting time targets to get the remaining 30 per cent.
Government funding is currently increasing by around £10m a year, but expenses at the trust are rocketing by £20m – blamed on a reliance on expensive agency staff and a surge in demand – leaving a huge shortfall.
Some £22. 3m savings will be made this year, including cutting back on agency use and overtime payments.
Stock will be tightly controlled, while heating and electricity bills are also being targeted as finances are watched closely.
Mrs Swift said frontline services will not be affected, with contingency plans in place in case the A&E target, worth £1.25m, is missed (some 91.48 per cent of patients were seen within four hours in June against a national target of 95 per cent).
She also said the bank balance would ‘never’ hit zero and that the trust even hopes to break even without the Sunstainability and Transformation Fund within the next three years.