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Saturday, 01 November 2014

Leaked photo reveals beds crisis at Carlisle A&E department

This photo reveals the true extent of the bed crisis in Carlisle hospital’s accident and emergency department.

Beds crisis photo
The photo taken at the Cumberland Infirmary’s A&E

Leaked to The Cumberland News, the image shows that 28 patients at the Cumberland Infirmary on March 18 were forced to wait longer than four hours.

This equates to one-in-five patients, thereby breaching Government targets.

The photograph is the latest evidence of hospital’s A&E department’s struggle to cope with high numbers of patients.

The hospital trust itself said Mondays – as March 18 was – can be particularly busy in the city’s accident and emergency department but insisted work is underway to try and reduce visitors to A&E.

Dallan McGleenan, of health union Unison, said that while he had not seen the photo, the information it provided was no surprise.

“This information is not new to us,” he said. “We are well aware of breaches happening for a long, long time within A&E.

“The situation seems to be deteriorating and we have flagged this up as an area of concern.”

The public should be concerned, he said, that there appeared to be a one-in-five chance of spending longer in A&E than what the Government ‘deemed as being reasonable’.

“It is deeply concerning and we will continue to flag these breaches up to hospital management,” he added.

“I think if you dig behind these statistics, you will find hard-pressed staff doing their very best to get patients placed into beds that just aren’t there.”

“Obviously more beds – plus the staff to manage the patients in those beds – is the answer, in our view.”

The union has been working with North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the infirmary, and its management to address the issue.

Mr McGleenan has said on many occasions that he is optimistic that the incoming trust – Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust, which is in the process of acquiring north Cumbria – will make a big difference.

Corinne Siddall, director of operations for the Cumbria trust, said: “Mondays can be particularly busy following the weekend. It is important to stress that generally and overall, 95 per cent of our patients within A&E are seen , treated, discharged or admitted within four hours.

“Our efforts therefore, are focused around ensuring that Mondays are like the other days in the week and nursing staff, clinical teams and management are working closely to improve emergency flow within the organisation.”

Ms Siddall said there were “many improvement projects” on the way, which specifically focus on ensuring patients are assessed by a consultant or senior doctor as early as possible.

“We are also working with Cumbria Partnership Trust to speed up discharges to community hospitals and improving discharge planning and processes to enable patients to get home sooner,” she said.

“The project which is underway to improve patient flow is intended to reduce pressure in the A&E department.

Ms Siddall added: “Senior teams are monitoring the delivery of this on a regular basis and all of our teams are working to ensure we maintain the highest standards of safety and quality.”

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