Sunday, 7 August 2016

North West Ambulance Service under pressure

Lancashire Teaching Hospital NHS foundation Trust knew beforehand that the closure of Chorley hospitals A&E  would result in ambulances queuing outside other hospitals.

I can just imagine the top brass at the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) having a near heart attack when they hear yet another A&E in the region is to be closed.

The A&E at Chorley was closed in April this year [2016] due to a lack of mid-grade doctors leading to an increased risk to patient safety.

The Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS foundation Trust, responsible for Preston and Chorley hospitals, made a decision to [temporarily] close the A&E at their Chorley site. This would leave people of Chorley & South Ribble with an Urgent Care Centre (UCC) treating minor ailments.

With the A&E at Chorley closed, any patients needing emergency treatment would have to attend the alternative Preston Royal Hospital.

Some may say that due to a lack of A&E doctors at Chorley; the trust had no alternative but to close the service and send everyone to Preston hospital.

The hospital trust board have come under some flack since they have constantly refused to provide evidence that they were doing enough to re-open the Chorley A&E.

Inevitably, the knock on effect of an A&E closure would be that ambulances would swamp surrounding hospitals. Something the Trust knew would happen, here's why...

At a board meeting in early April, analysis showed that closing the A&E at Chorley would create problems at the Preston hospital, the report stated "a 50:50 split of attendances was analysed which showed that there would be increased pressure on patient attendances at Royal Preston Hospital".

Furthermore, in the same month, just before closing Chorley' A&E, the Hospital trust chief executive Mrs K Partington confirmed that..

"conversations had been held with Wigan and Bolton Chief Executives and similar contact had been made with the Chief Executives at Blackpool, East Lancashire, Morecambe Bay and Lancashire Care to determine whether support could be provided although all organisations had confirmed that support could not be provided as similar pressures were being experienced within each Trust".
It was made expressly clear that closing Chorley A&E and diverting patients to any of these already overcrowded trusts would risk patient safety. Nevertheless, the patients were diverted.

The result?....
  • 11th May - Ambulances forced to queue at Royal Blackburn Hospital as A&E department stretched to breaking point (source: L.E. Telegraph)

  • 9th June - Ambulances queue outside Wigan A&E after patients from Chorley A&E were diverted there.
    (source LEP)

  • 1st August - Waiting times at Royal Preston A&E hit worst recorded level ever
    (source 2BR)

  • 15 Ambulances queue outside Preston hospital.
    source: ITV news
Hopefully the queues will reduce and the system will stabalise, but somehow with winter approaching it's likely to get worse.

The solution?

You tell me, leave a comment below or join us on Facebook at
Protect Chorley Hospital from Cuts and Privatisation

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