The accident and emergency department at Lincoln County Hospital is never quiet. Tipped to bursting point by winter illness surges, staffing shortages and a climbing deficit, the halls of the building in north east Lincoln are a hive of emotion – and no day is the same.
As the largest hospital in the county, offering the most comprehensive services, Lincoln County’s net reaches hundreds of communities, its load exacerbated by recent closures of facilities including A&E in Newark.
Surging patient numbers are not an uncommon trend, with the latest weekly NHS figures revealing an 8% year-on-year increase in attendance at major A&E units.
Pressures put Lincoln County Hospital into Black Alert during the winter of 2014/15 with as many as 162 patients coming through to A&E in one day and 15,530 people calling the East Midlands Ambulance Service for help.
This winter, the hospital was blighted by an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug norovirus. The cost of the to United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust was between £500,000 and £1 million, bringing its forecast deficit to £58 million.
Altogether for the financial year 2014/15, almost 72,000 people attended A&E at the hospital, and staff are consistently working to a four hour waiting times target.
For the last reporting month (November) the trust-wide A&E performance was 86.52% against the four hour target.
How does it feel to work in the A&E department, and how do staff deal with the everyday tensions? The Lincolnite visited the hospital to find out.