Hospitals and emergency health services are continuing to experience high pressures in Lincolnshire as the county spends its fourth day on ‘black alert’.
The alert, which signifies the highest level of pressure, was declared on Monday, January 5. After that, community health services were suspended across the county.
In Lincoln, the County Hospital A&E said it treated 162 patients on Tuesday, January 6 — the equivalent of some six people per hour.
The figure, which was originally reported by ULHT as 128, does not include patients referred from GPs to the Medical Emergency Assessment Unit (MEAU).
United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT) says it is mitigating pressures by using community bed capacity for people who cannot be discharged home but are well enough to leave hospital.
On Friday, January 8, the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust will also be changing the use of Rochford unit at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston for patients waiting for community support, as a temporary measure.
The unit will help discharge predominately elderly frail people, who have been assessed fit for discharge from United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust sites around Lincolnshire and are awaiting short term community social care support at home.
Michelle Rhodes, Director of Operations at ULHT, said: “Lincolnshire hospitals are still busy. There are still high pressures being experienced across the NHS and social care but we continue to manage the situation and deliver quality care.
“The quality and safety of patient care is the Trust’s number one priority. We are working together with partners to mitigate some of these pressures and move back towards a more normal situation. This includes using community bed capacity for patients who are aren’t ill enough to be in hospital but aren’t well enough to be discharged home.
“Our staff and our heath community partners’ staff have been fantastic. They are coping well during this difficult time. It’s thanks to the hard work of staff which has kept services functioning and patients safe.
“We ask people to only attend A&E with serious or life threatening illnesses and to seek alternative support for on-going problems or minor injuries.
“Those who attend with minor conditions will still be treated, but potentially will have long waits. We urge everyone to think twice before they go to A&E – if it’s not serious or life threatening, you shouldn’t be there.”
During December 2014, East Midlands Ambulance Service received 15,530 calls from people in Lincolnshire needing emergency or urgent help.
Of those calls, 13,727 received a face-to-face ambulance response. Some 58% of the calls that received a face-to-face response resulted in the patient going to hospital for further assessment and treatment.
This means 42% of callers were assessed and treated on the scene by clinical staff.
Andy Hill, EMAS Paramedic and General Manager for Lincolnshire, said: ‘The increase in calls has put incredible pressure on the whole health system and inevitably that has meant that unfortunately some patients have experienced delays, particularly when their condition is not life-threatening or serious.
“When demand on the hospitals has been significantly high we have been asked to divert so our patient can receive care from a team at another hospital facility. The divert request only applies to patients who are not already en route to the facility experiencing high demand.
“We have experienced delays in A&E colleagues being able to accept a clinical handover from our ambulance crews.”