Emergency Services were at crisis point this week, Council health watchdogs have been told.
Speaking at the Sefton Council Health & Care Scrutiny Committee, Damien Reid, Chief Operating Officer of the Southport & Ormskirk NHS Trust informed local councillors that all parties involved were doing everything possible to keep the service working but . . .
“There are simply more cases coming in requiring admission than patients being discharged.”
Responding to councillors questions, Mr Reid confirmed that the nature of the cases coming into the accident department was such that in many cases they required admission but there were no spare beds available. All the main organisations involved were working closely together and would be meeting on Wednesday to assess the situation.
Fiona Clarke, Chief Executive of the Southport & Formby Clinical Commissioning Group said that she accepted that all concerned were working as hard as they could but emphasised that over £2 million extra money had been pumped by the CCG into the local hospital trust this winter to help counter pressures.
Southport Lib Dem Health spokesperson Councillor Tony Dawson suggested that some patients would have turned up at A&E because they believed that General Practitioner services would not be available over Christmas and New Year. Ms Clarke,said that the GP On Call service had been available 24 hours a day, every day, over Christmas. She accepted that perhaps not everybody knew this and would try to improve public awareness.
It has just been reported to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that recent NHS research has found that almost one million patients a year are seeking care at an A&E unit because they are unable to get a GP appointment.
Since the Committee meeting, Councillor Dawson says that relatives have come forward to the local Lib Dem office talking of 19 hour waits to be admitted this Monday including 6 hours for an elderly woman on a trolley in a corridor. This followed a three hour wait for an ‘urgent ambulance’ called by a General Practitioner which was eventually supplied by St John Ambulance volunteers from Preston.
“This is clearly unacceptable,” he says. “We have been told that effectively a completely unexpected Tsunami of complicated cases has swamped hospitals in all parts of Britain with Southport taking its share. This has to be looked into seriously.”
Councillor Dawson has been informed that one of the issues preventing discharge of patients who are ready to go home from hospital may be the lack of sufficient care staff being employed by local agencies. Without proper care packages, some patients are being kept back in hospital when they both want to go home and would be better off being home. He has asked council officers to look into this service which is nowadays provided entirely through private agencies.