Over 150 people waiting to be discharged, A&E waiting rooms already overcrowded and a surge in winter patients on the horizon – that is a snapshot of the problems facing Lincolnshire hospitals.
The ‘gridlocked’ system has been letting some patients down, the trust’s chief executive Andrew Morgan has admitted.
As he spoke on Monday morning, 150 people were ready to be released by the trust, but couldn’t because of issues with their care or accommodation.
Meanwhile, 65 people were crammed into Lincoln County Hospital waiting room, which was built for 50 to 60.
All A&E cubicles were full, and 40 patients were on the waiting list for beds which were in desperate short supply.
Boston Pilgrim Hospital faced a similar picture as the hospital prepares for a challenging winter.
The trust has begun trials to admit patients faster, but chief executive Andrew Morgan says it’s vital that community services help their speedy release.
“When we don’t discharge patients on time, it means there are fewer beds for new patients which results in longer waits in A&E and ambulances,” Andrew Morgan said.
“However, there could be staffing issues or lack of resources if they’re going to a care home, or other support if they need long-term care.
“I am not pointing fingers or blaming anyone for our position. There’s always room for us to get slicker with test results and other paperwork.
“People who have finished their hospital treatment need to be somewhere else. I hope others will work with me to make that happen.”
A recent CQC report described hospitals as “gridlocked”, and the government has allocated £500 million to get people out of hospitals quicker.
It’s also hoped Lincoln’s new A&E department will increase capacity.
Mr Morgan accepted that delays had led to many Lincolnshire A&E patients having a “poor experience, waiting much longer than anyone would have wanted”, and staff also deserved better.
It’s unknown how severe the flu and Covid season will be yet. However, it will add to an A&E system that’s already stretched to breaking point.
“Winter is always a busy time with the impact of flu, Covid and Norovirus, which can lead to our own staff being off sick as well.
|We’re coming into winter already under pressure, playing catch-up,” he said.
“We’re expecting a difficult period, and will be putting on as much capacity as possible.”
A pilot has begun to move patients from waiting rooms to wards quicker, which it is hoped will prepare for greater pressures.
The Breaking the Cycle programme (currently on its third week) has had positive early feedback, the hospital chief executive said.
“We acknowledge it moves the risk deeper into the hospitals. However, staff are supportive that it is better to have patients waiting in wards than A&E waiting rooms,” he said.
“Not everyone waits a long time. We have to treat the sickest first, but if more keep coming in the door, then the less sick will keep getting pushed down the list.”
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