Public asked to avoid A&E after waiting times pass five hours

The Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
The Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
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Residents in the Lancaster district are being asked to consider using other healthcare services rather than Accident and Emergency, as the A&E departments at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary faces exceptional pressure.

As of 9.30am yesterday, Sunday, there were already nearly 30 patients waiting in the Emergency Department at the RLI, with some patients having to wait five-and-a-half hour to be assessed.

John Taylor, director of strategy, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Once again we find ourselves experiencing increased pressure in both our A&E departments.

“Unfortunately, due to the pressure we are facing, we are keeping patients in our A&E departments longer than we would like to. This is mostly due to patients waiting to be admitted to our wards, and as a consequence we are having to keep many patients in A&E.

“Therefore, we are calling on the public to help us by only coming to our A&Es if they really have to. This will help our staff to be free to treat those most in need, such as those who have a serious or life-threatening illness or injury.

“If you do attend one of our A&Es, please be patient with staff who are doing their best in difficult circumstances. At the moment, patients are likely to experience long waiting times, whilst our staff see and treat those who need urgent medical attention.

“Whilst we will see and treat all patients who attend, there are those who could be better treated elsewhere. We know it can be difficult when someone is unwell so if you aren’t sure whether or not to attend the A&E, please ring the NHS advice line on 111 who are trained to help. If you have a minor illness or injury that needs attention, you can visit your nearest pharmacist, Primary Care Assessment Centre, or speak to your GP.”

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has called on the government to provide a £4billion emergency cash injection for the NHS in the Autumn Statement.

The Lib Dems are calling on the Chancellor to invest £4billion in NHS and Social Care in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, of which £400million would be specifically to bolster A&E services this winter.

Mr Farron said: “It is extremely worrying that our local A&E services are already in crisis, when the worst of the winter hasn’t even set in yet.

“The government cannot simply pretend that everything will be ok – our NHS is desperately short of funds. I am calling on the Chancellor to use the Autumn Statement to announce a £4billion cash injection for our NHS.

“Without this, the problems will only get worse and it is the sick and ill who rely on these services that will take the hit.”

An emergency is a serious or life-threatening injury and condition, such as a suspected heart attack, acute confused state and fits that are not stopping, loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, chest pain, head injuries or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, then 999 should be called.

Details of pharmacy opening times, as well as advice on caring for yourself and your family at home, are available at www.nhs.uk/Pages/HomePage.aspx or www.nhs.uk/111.