Lancashire

East Lancashire hospitals face 'extreme' winter pressures in summer

Royal Blackburn Image copyright Google
Image caption A&E departments in Blackburn, Burnley and Accrington dealt with 738 patients last Monday.

"Extreme" pressures on A&E departments usually seen in winter are "becoming the norm" all year round, a senior health manager has claimed.

It comes after East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust faced its "busiest day ever" on Monday 8 July.

The A&E department in Blackburn dealt with 738 people on 8 July - a 15% rise compared to a "normal" Monday.

The Nuffield Trust said it was a "widespread" issue across England and was leading to longer waiting times.

East Lancashire's chief executive Kevin McGee told the BBC they were trying to understand what had caused the spike.

"We used to talk about winter pressures and numbers increasing in winter and now the pressure is like that all year round," he said.

Mr McGee said 8 July was "our busiest day ever" and said the numbers they are seeing "are quite extreme".

"I think this is now becoming the norm. We need to plan and think about that and make sure we've got the appropriate staff in to cope with these pressures," added Mr McGee.

He said a combination of under-staffing, under-funding and education relating to when people needed emergency care were to blame.

'Things usually get better'

Sarah Scobie, Deputy Director of Research at the Nuffield Trust, said the problems seen in Lancashire were "widespread" in England and it was leading to longer waiting times.

Ms Scobie said "things usually do get better in the summer" but that things had been "very difficult" this year with only three hospital A&Es meeting the four-hour target for waiting times.

She said long-term funding issues and staffing needed to be addressed.

Blackburn's Labour MP Kate Hollern said the crisis in social care was adding to the problem as more elderly people were being brought to hospital, instead of being cared for at home.

"There is a crisis in the NHS and we desperately need funding to recruit doctors and nurses to ease the problem," she said.

NHS England has been approached for comment.

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