Emergency care is one of our top priorities at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and we are working hard to look at ways to relieve the pressure in our A&E departments.
Our A&Es are a bit like a barometer helping us to gauge how the rest of the trust and the wider health service are running. If the hospital is busy and under pressure then this will be visible in the emergency department.
If the wards are full then there will be a delay in getting those who need admitting through A&E, potentially causing a bit of a backlog and longer waiting times for patients waiting to be seen.
You may have seen recent stories in the media about the tough time we have been having in our emergency departments and potentially longer waits in Lincoln and Pilgrim.
Over the years the demand on these departments has continued to increase. In 2013, 66,139 people visited Lincoln A&E and this rose to 72,071 in 2016, an increase of almost 9% or an average of 16 extra patients every single day of the year.
Pilgrim Hospital saw 49,030 patients in 2013 and 57,665 in 2016, an increase of 17.6% or an average of 23 additional people each day.
The national target set by the Department of Health is that 95% of patients should spend four hours or less in A&E from arrival to transfer, admission or discharge.
I would like to reassure you we are doing everything we can locally to try and manage our waiting times. Staffing remains a key focus for us and like many trusts across the country attracting permanent members of staff has proved to be a real challenge. Last month we were really pleased to welcome a new A&E consultant to the team at Lincoln.
Two middle grade doctors have also joined the team following our last advert, but they will need some time on the junior rota while they find their feet and then they will be able to participate on the middle grade rota.
This is all good news and we are also hoping to build on these permanent appointments in the coming months.
I know many of us are still enjoying the last few weeks of summer, but we are already planning for winter which traditionally sees an increase in demand on our services.
Our staff work incredibly hard to see people as soon and as efficiently as possible, but we are asking everyone to be mindful of where they go for treatment – a long wait in A&E may not be the best place for you.
It’s always worth stocking up your medicine cupboard at home and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society say the following list will help you deal with most minor ailments: pain relief, antihistamines, oral rehydration salts, anti-diarrhoea tablets, indigestion treatment, sunscreen and a first aid kit.
If you need further advice many illnesses can be treated by visiting your local pharmacy, calling 111, visiting your local GP, or GP out of hours service or attending a walk in centre.
You should only visit A&E with serious or life threatening illnesses, such as heart attacks, strokes, breathing problems, or serious accidents. Those who attend with minor conditions will still be treated, but potentially will have longer waits at busy times.
More information on non-emergency healthcare services is available at www.nhs.uk