Winter pressures persist at Lancashire hospitals

Royal Preston Hospital
Royal Preston Hospital

Lancashire hospitals continue to operate close to capacity in terms of occupied beds, months on from the height of the winter crisis.

According to latest NHS figures, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals’ (LTH) allocation of beds has been 95.1 per cent full on average.

Patients being cared for in hospitals operating above the limit face a greater risk of either receiving inadequate care, being placed on an inappropriate ward for their condition, or contracting superbugs such as MRSA, according to the British Medical Association.

READ MORE: Operations face cancellation as winter pressures bite NHS
The figures, recording the week of February 19 to 25, reveal of 900 available beds, 855 were in use on average throughout the week.

Of these, 48 were “escalation beds” temporary beds set up in periods of intense pressure.

These are sometimes placed in areas not usually used for hospital patients. This number has increased since the previous week, when 40 escalation beds were in use.

The occupancy rate reached 95.9 in the lead up to Christmas.

Karen Partington, LTH chief executive, said: “Our recent bed occupancy level has been around the national average. Whilst the hospitals have been busier than usual, our staff have worked hard to ensure the care we provide is safe and effective.

“The extreme weather conditions have caused further increase in demand, we trust patients and their families understand that there may be some delays during the busy winter period and we are doing all we can to minimise disruption and provide timely treatment.”

The number of patient arrivals by ambulance has also seen an increase, with 734 compared with 638 the previous week. Of these, 150 waited between 30 minutes and an hour before they could be transferred to emergency departments.

This was higher than the previous week’s figure of 82.

Earlier this year hospitals across the country cancelled routine operations as a spike in flu cases and bed shortages contributed to a winter crisis.