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'OPEL 4' declared due to increasing pressures

7 March 2022

  • Quality and safety

We are again running at extremely high levels of occupancy and continue to see huge rise in demands for our services. Attendances at A&E are rising; there are ongoing challenges in discharging patients who are well enough to leave hospital; staffing levels in some areas are difficult; and we are seeing an increase in patients with COVID-19. All of this is resulting in longer waits than we would like for patients to be seen and admitted.

Because of these pressures, the Trust has taken the decision to escalate to OPEL 4 - the highest level of internal escalation. This allows us to be able to take additional steps to maintain safe services for our patients and help us cope with the growing pressures.

Declaring OPEL 4 means enables us to bring all our partners in Lancashire and South Cumbria together to focus on one thing - the safe and timely care of all of our patients. There are some immediate actions being taken by Trust teams and our partners, including:

  • Discussing options with social care colleagues to expedite the safe discharge of as many patients who are well enough to be discharged but remain in hospital for various reasons, as possible
  • Reviewing non-urgent operations and outpatient appointments to see whether delaying appointments where safe to do so would free up beds and/or colleagues who could support clinical teams
  • Standing down all non-essential activity to allow senior teams to support ward colleagues on the ground and help unblock as many delays in discharge as possible

If you are not contacted directly, please continue to turn up for your appointment. Please also contact the number on your appointment letter if you are no longer able to make your appointment so it can be reallocated to another patient.

As always, patient safety must take priority and we need to take action to make sure that those who are more clinically urgent get the help they need as quickly as possible.

Our teams continue to work exceptionally hard; and we would like to reassure our patients and the public that in spite of the challenges faced and some changes to non-urgent appointments, essential services remain fully open for anyone who needs them so if you require urgent medical help, please continue to come forward.

The public can help us manage these periods of demand by ensuring they are seeking help from the most appropriate health services, and only attending A&E for serious accidents and emergencies. If you are unwell, visit NHS 111 online for 24/7 advice about the most appropriate care for your needs.

Aaron Cummins
Chief Executive