Morecambe Bay hospitals stand down from critical incident

The trust which runs hospitals across Morecambe Bay - including the Royal Lancaster Infirmary - has been stood down from its critical incident.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 12:20 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 12:22 pm
The trust has opened a ward at the RLI that will be used for Covid-19 positive patients.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS TRust (UHMBT) last week declared a critical internal incident as a result of increasing pressures on its services due to Covid.

The trust, which also operates Furness General Hospital in Barrow and Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal, took the decision to cancel non-urgent procedures, and asked people to contact 111 for help and advice rather than attending A&E.

But in a statement this morning, Tuesday, the trust said that while it is 'still experiencing significant pressures and remains at its highest level of internal escalation', they have now 'put into place all of the actions being in a critical incident allow so it is the right time to officially step it down'.

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"Our teams will continue to work together to focus on the actions we have put into place to ensure we can provide safe services for patients and the best possible work environment for colleagues," the trust said.

The actions taken by hospital teams to try to relieve the pressures are starting to make a small but important impact, they added.

This includes:

*Opening additional beds at WGH and relocating 20 patients who are deemed as medically fit to be discharged. This has freed up 20 beds at the RLI for patients with a greater clinical need

*Opening a ward at the RLI that will be used for Covid-19 positive and resolving Covid -19 patients.

*Developing plans to open further beds at WGH and the RLI

*Redeploying staff to assist in areas that need support

*Reinstating incident ‘cells’ (such as workforce, operations, communications, etc) meaning expert support and advice is easily accessible for teams

*Extending the opening hours of Occupational Health and Wellbeing service

*Increasing access to PCR testing to allow staff and members of their households to be tested and get their results quickly

Chief executive Aaron Cummins said: "The actions taken by our teams to try to relieve the pressures are starting to make a small but important impact.

"As a result of all of this work, we are starting to see reduced wait times and smaller numbers of people in our Emergency Departments - although they are still too high.

"We are also seeing our sickness absence rate remaining at around 12.5% - which equates to around 1,000 colleagues being unable to work. Whilst this is still a lot higher than we would usually see, it doesn’t currently seem to be increasing at the rate we had expected.

"One of the key pieces of work we remain focused on is working with our partners across Lancashire and South Cumbria to reduce the number of patients in our hospitals who are medically fit to be discharged but can’t leave for a variety of reasons - those deemed as ‘not meeting criteria to reside’.

"Not only is being in hospital no longer the best place for these patients, it means we have beds that we cannot use for those with a greater clinical need.

"Whilst stepping down the incident is positive news and a real testament to colleagues across our services, teams will continue to work together to focus on the actions we have put into place to ensure we can provide safe services for patients and the best possible work environment for colleagues."