4,400 patients walk out of Blackpool A&E without being treated

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A dozen patients walked out of A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital every day last year without being treated.

The Gazette can today reveal that one in 20 people leaves the department without being treated as medics come under increasing pressure.

The figures, along with increased waiting times, have fuelled fears over the level of spending on the NHS as health chiefs work to plug a £10m funding gap in the face of an extra 5,000 patients turning up at A&E last year. Hospital bosses said staff have been drafted in to help manage demand during busy periods.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “Clearly these figures are a reflection of the pressure from funding cuts.”

The Gazette’s analysis of provisional NHS statistics, which today lays bare the true impact of the under-funding of local health services, also showed:

• Some 87,908 turned up at A&E last year, up almost 5,000 from the year before, and an average of 10 every hour round the clock;

• Patients arriving by emergency ambulance waited an average of just under 10 minutes for an initial assessment in 2016, up from just over five-and-a-half the year before;

• The average wait for treatment was around 70 minutes, five minutes longer than in 2015;

• The total amount of time spent in A&E topped three hours and 20 minutes, up from just under three hours as the department saw an extra 15 people every day; and

• An extra 1,251 people left being receiving treatment last year – while the total number walking out went up from 3.82 per cent of all A&E patients to 5.02 per cent.

At the same time, hospital bosses have had to make millions of pounds of savings to cover an annual £10m funding gap, scour the globe to fill staff vacancies, and make ‘radical’ changes in a bid to improve care.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “Clearly these figures are a reflection of the pressure from funding cuts, and the government needs to be held to account.

“But, and it’s a big but, A&E does not tell the whole story of the problems at the hospital and I’m as concerned about the intense over-occupation of beds.”

More than 95 per cent of beds were taken between December 1 and January 1, figures showed.

Mr Marsden added: “The other side of the coin, which is just as important, is the failure of the government to fund adult social care, which means a lot of people are admitted too late, often to A&E, when they could have been better cared for at home.”

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP, Paul Maynard, said: “We all recognise the brilliant work our doctors, nurses, and health care professionals undertake on a daily bases.

“It is true to say that demand for NHS services, in particularly A&E departments, is growing, but I think we need to look at underlying issues as to why demand is increasing so quickly.

“A&E is just one provider of primary care. Services like NHS Direct, walk-in centres, and pharmacists are all places where health concerns can be looked into.

“In terms of funding, the government asked the NHS how much extra money it required, they said £8bn and the Government agreed on £10bn. The NHS is being funded to a level not seen before.”

MPs disputed claims the government was putting extra money into the NHS in October, saying the timescale for the investment had changed, with NHS’s chief executive Simon Stevens saying: “Well it’s right that by 2020 NHS England will be getting an extra £10bn over the course of six years.

“I don’t think that’s the same as saying we are getting more than we asked for over five years because it was a five year forward view, not a six year forward view.

“In the here and now there are very real pressures ... This is not because hospitals are being feckless. It doesn’t help anybody to pretend there aren’t finance gaps.”