Lincolnshire

Record heatwave A&E rush pushed hospitals in ‘winter conditions’

Health bosses have said record numbers of patients attending Lincolnshire’s A&E’s during this year’s heatwave led to hospitals returning to “winter conditions”.

More than 65,000 people were seen in emergency departments over the summer due to respiratory problems and conditions made worse by dehydration.

This led to delays at hospitals for such things as planned operations and further pressures because of extra demand.

Bosses said that, although there were fewer staff off sick, there were more on holiday.

They added that delays in operations came at a time when hopsitals try to recover their waiting lists.

From April to August 2018, hospitals recorded 65,183 attendances at emergency departments across the county.

In the same period last year, there were 58,962 people who attended A&E.

Boston Pilgrim Hospital. Picture: Steve Smailes

Officials now say that there is concern about challenges during the winter period because services are struggling to cope during the summer.

But Ruth Cumbers, Urgent Care Programme Director for the region, said plans will be in place to deal with the pressures.

She said: “Lincolnshire often experiences an influx of temporary residents in the summer period, particularly on the east coast.

“With this increase in population during these months, inevitably illness and injury will occur and often patients will present to accident and emergency as they may not have the knowledge of other, more appropriate local services that are available.

“We have plans in place to deal with pressures on our services during winter.

“These include our new winter room which will help support day to day operational resilience across the system to manage demand, capacity and flow.”

She added that patients can also use ASAPLincs, a new app which was launched last month, to find the most appropriate care.

Meanwhile, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust has consistently failed to meet its 95% emergency department waiting target since 2014.

But, bosses at the trust insist that measures are being taken to plan for the winter.

This summer saw high temperatures across the UK due to a heatwave.

Simon Evans, Director of Operations at ULHT, said that some measures have already been launched, such as a redesign of Boston A&E and more elective operations at Grantham Hospital.

“We have had a very busy summer with record numbers of patients coming to our A&E departments across the county,” he said

“This winter we are expecting to see an increased demand for patient services throughout Lincolnshire. To make sure we are ready, work on our Winter Plan has been ongoing for many months with our healthcare partners.

“At Pilgrim hospital in Boston we have just launched our Big Change programme which has involved a major redesign of the way our emergency departments operate, including a new integrated assessment centre, medical and surgical wards.

“These will help the flow of emergency patients through the hospital, reducing A&E waits and preventing cancelled operations.

“We also launched a six month trial in August, which sees more elective operations being carried out at Grantham and District Hospital and aims to improve the experience and outcomes for patients across the county by dramatically reducing the number of cancelled orthopaedic operations.”

He added that people should only attend A&E if it is an emergency and advised them to consider if they could be helped by their local pharmacy or GP.

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