Lincolnshire A&E pressure blamed on 'long winter'

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Media captionSome operations have been cancelled due to demand for services

The prolonged winter is to blame for high pressure on accident and emergency (A&E) services, according to the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust.

People living in the county have been told to go to A&E only if it is "absolutely vital".

The chief executive of the trust, Jane Lewington, said: "We've done a lot of planning but what's caught us all out is the length of the winter."

She said some operations have been cancelled due to demand for services.

Ms Lewington said: "Staff work as hard as they can right up until the very last minute every night to try to get the next morning's patients in for their operations.

"Very sadly, over the last week, we have had to cancel some patients who were planning to come into hospital for surgery and I'd like to reassure those patients that we're working very hard to get them back in as quickly as we can."

She said inspectors were due to visit the trust in June as part of an investigation into high mortality rates at a number of hospitals.

There have been more than 1,800 deaths in United Lincolnshire Hospitals than expected in the past decade, according to the government's Dr Foster research unit.

'More to do'

Ms Lewington said the trust's death rates had fallen from 108 between April and June 2012 to 99 from October until the end of that year.

She said internal inspections and clinical reviews were being carried out to tackle the high rates.

"I want to reassure people that patient safety and the quality of what we do is our absolute top priority. For every death that happens in the hospital, the clinical teams get together to see if there's anything that they could have done better as a team," Ms Lewington said.

"We are on an improvement journey. We've made a lot of progress but we have got more to do."

The trust runs Lincoln County, Grantham and District and Boston's Pilgrim hospitals.

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