Morecambe bay hospitals fail to hit A&E target amid bed shortage concern

Lancaster Royal Infirmary Hospital.
Accident and Emergency.
Lancaster Royal Infirmary Hospital. Accident and Emergency.

Morecambe Bay’s health trust failed to hit its A&E admission targets in December amid concerns over bed shortages.

The trust treated or admitted 84 per cent of patients in its hospitals within four hours during the final month of 2017.

Foluke Ajayi

Foluke Ajayi

The target is 95 per cent.

The last time it hit the target was in August 2015.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris said December is always a difficult time for A&E and the government had given the trust an extra £2m to cope with winter pressures.

But Lancaster MP Cat Smith and Furness MP John Woodcock have demanded government action on the scale of local bed shortages.

The Labour MPs made the call after they said they learned from a local doctor that Morecambe Bay hospitals were 60 beds short last weekend. 
But the trust said the average bed occupancy across December was 95.5 per cent, with an average of 28 beds available at 8am.

Ms Smith said: “Staff are working round the clock to provide the best care they can but they cannot work miracles if the government refuse to give our hospitals the resources they desperately need.

“Ministers must act to tackle this winter crisis.”

Foluke Ajayi, chief operating officer at University Hospital of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, said: “Our hospitals, along with many others across the country, continue to be under significant pressure.

“Unfortunately, this can sometimes mean patients wait longer than usual to be admitted to a bed. It’s important to note that bed availability across the Trust fluctuates on an hourly basis and is managed by regular patient flow meetings.

“The recently quoted figure of minus 60 beds at the Trust is not an accurate reflection of bed availability at UHMBT.”

County Coun Charlie Edwards, lead member for health and adult services at Lancashire County Council, said that the figure released by Ms Smith and Mr Woodcock about hospital beds was “wrong”.

He added: “Through the Better Care Fund, we invested £21m to improve flow in the hospitals, to get people out of beds who didn’t need to be there and we are constantly working to find innovative solutions to this growing crisis, with an ageing population and growing demand on our services.”

Mr Morris added: “Please make sure that if you are feeling unwell, and you are unsure whether to attend A&E, you seek advice from your GP or 111 in the first instance.

“This ensures that A&E usage is kept to those who need to be there and means that those in the greatest need are able to be seen quickly and effectively.”

The trust also failed to hit its planned ops and care target in November 2017, with 87.5 per cent of patients waiting less than 18 weeks for treatment.

The target is 92 per cent. Nationally, the average was 89 per cent.

UHMBT did however hit its targets on cancer care, with 89.8 per cent of patients beginning treatment within 62 days of urgent GP referral.

The target is 85 per cent and the national average in November was 82.5 per cent.