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New figures show spike in demand for services at East Lancashire hospitals
10:00pm Wednesday 16th October 2013 in East Lancashire
NEW figures obtained by the Lancashire Telegraph suggest staff at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust are under more pressure than at any point in the last four years.
‘Snapshot’ data released through Freedom of Information laws showed the number of patients waiting for treatment was steadily declining, until this year, when the numbers spiked.
On June 30, there were 14,785 people waiting for outpatient appointments and inpatient treatments at East Lancashire’s hospitals, compared to 13,631 on the same day last year.
There were 14,057 people waiting in 2011, 14,186 in 2011 and 14,748 in 2010.
Health chiefs have long been concerned about the rising demand for services, with many experts doubting whether the NHS can cope. But the numbers could also reflect a failure to get patients discharged appropriately and quickly, which could free up staff and beds for the next person on the waiting list.
Several measures are currently being explored to improve the ‘flow’ of patients through the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General, while commissioners are stressing the importance of treating patients in the community where possible, and keeping them out of hospital.
Val Bertenshaw, director of operations at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We know having prompt access to NHS treatment and care is extremely important to patients, as waiting for treatment, an operation or test results can be a particularly anxious time. The sustained increase in patients accessing hospital services is a health economy issue that we are working to address with our clinical commissioning group (CCG) colleagues in East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen.
“The trust continues to flex its capacity where it can to meet demand but the CCGs are also exploring ways of limiting demand by commissioning alternatives to hospital care and improving primary care access.”
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