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Right Arrow Use A&E wisely after ‘unprecedented’ demand, says senior nurse
16 December 2014 at 13:05

A hospital’s most senior nurse is urging people to use A&E wisely following “unprecedented” demand for care at Southport hospital.

Angela Kelly, Interim Director of Nursing and Quality, said: “We have seen a growing number of patients since October which reached unprecedented levels over the past few days. A very busy weekend was followed by an unusually busy Monday which included nine patients experiencing cardiac arrests – more than we would expect to see in a single week.

“We created 19 additional bed spaces but, quite simply, patients were arriving quicker than we could discharge them. In part this is because many patients we see now are older, frailer and more poorly which means they need more intensive treatment, are prone to complications and can take longer to prepare for discharge.

“Plans are in place to ensure that people who need urgent care get treated but this means some patients may experience delays to some services, or that services are delivered in a slightly different way. Our main priority is to maintain patient safety.”

Angela said: “We are not saying don’t use A&E. We are saying use A&E wisely.

“Many people who arrive at A&E, particularly by ambulance following a 999 call, do need hospital care and will be seen immediately. However, there are others whose care needs could be met just as well by their GP, a pharmacist or by treating the symptoms themselves.

“A&E is for people facing life-threatening and serious emergencies such as serious accidents, serious burns, breathing problems, heart attacks and strokes. Please keep it free for them.”

Jonathan Parry, Chief Executive, added: “We are committed to providing the best possible care for all our patients and their safety will not be compromised. However, I know unprecedented demand for care will have affected the experience of care for some of our patients.

“I want to apologise to anyone who has been inconvenienced or upset by the unavoidable disruption these winter pressures have caused.”

Feeling under the weather? Examine your options

You don’t need to make an appointment at A&E but we’ll make an assessment on arrival and, depending on how urgent treatment is needed, you may have to wait up to four hours. The triage nurse or clinician may also signpost you to a different health care provider such as your GP, dentist or pharmacy.

That’s why you might be better examining your options and choosing another NHS service – or even treating yourself.

Coughs, colds, sore throats, upset stomachs, general aches and pains, and flu will usually clear up on their own. Keep warm, drink plenty of fluids and, if appropriate, treat with over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol.

Contact a GP or the GP out of hours service for help with injuries or illnesses that won’t go away.

Alternatively, West Lancashire Health Centre at Ormskirk hospital is open from 8am to 10pm all year round. Skelmersdale NHS Walk-in Centre at The Concourse is open from 7am to 10pm weekdays and 9am to 5pm on weekends.

Local pharmacies and NHS Choices are also a good source of information and advice.

Issued by Tony Ellis, Marketing and Communications Manager
Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust

Telephone 01704 704494
Twitter @SONHSTrust

Notes for editors

1. Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust manages Southport and Formby District General Hospital and Ormskirk and District General Hospital, and is responsible for many community healthcare services for adults in Southport, Formby and West Lancashire. We also provide sexual health services across Sefton and West Lancashire. The Trust has a budget of £186m and employs 3,600 staff. In 2013/14, we saw 248,102 outpatients; treated 61,096 inpatients; made 305,750 community care contacts outside hospital; supported the birth of 2,766 babies; and attended to 95,146 urgent care cases.

2. The Trust provides adult A&E services at Southport hospital, children’s A&E at Ormskirk hospital as well as urgent care at Skelmersdale Walk-in Centre.

3. The Trust is working with local GPs, who commission our services, and other NHS organisation to deliver care in a way which avoids patients going into hospital unless it is absolutely necessary. This improves the experience of care, is often more convenient for the patient and their families, and reduces the demand for hospital beds.

In the 17 months to September, the Care Closer to Home programme enabled the Trust to meet or exceed the national A&E standard that requires all patients are treated, admit or discharge within four hours. Between April and June, it was also among the top 10 best performing NHS urgent care providers in England.

However, in common with other trusts, we have seen increasing numbers of people needing our care since the autumn. A&E admissions in October were at their highest since April 2012 across Merseyside and West Lancashire, and attendances at Southport hospital’s adult A&E were up by 13.5%.