As you may be aware, our hospitals and community services are currently experiencing extreme pressures and despite the hard work of all of our teams, this has led to long delays in our Emergency Departments and difficulties discharging patients who are medically fit to be discharged but require further support at their place of residence (defined as not having criteria to reside).
This additional pressure, whilst also still caring for patients with COVID-19, poses a serious risk to patient safety and the experience of patients and colleagues. To try to assist, a number of actions are being put into place or investigated to help reduce the pressure on teams and services. The actions aim to:
- Avoid admissions
- Reduce length of stay
- Make the best use of capacity in our hospitals
- Accelerate transfers of care to the community / home
Among the plans being looked at are:
- Enhancing senior medical cover
- Maximising available capacity at Westmorland General Hospital
- Working with other agencies to ensure people can receive care in their own homes quicker
- Colleagues from our Care of the Elderly team assessing frailty patients in the Emergency Departments to enable them to return home the same day where safe to do so
- Extending the capacity of our Urgent Treatment Centres
- Introduce a 'floating doctor' at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary to add capacity and support medical colleagues where required
- Exploring additional surge capacity at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary
- Stepping down of 'non-urgent' meetings to allow relevant colleagues to focus on supporting teams on the ground
It is vital that we continue to do all we can to make sure that we use all of our capacity as effectively as possible. This will mean we can see and treat people before their care becomes a crisis; and ensure that they receive the care they need in the right place for their needs - whether that is in hospital or at home / in the community.
This is, of course, an issue that many of our partners are facing and we are certainly not alone. However, we need to continue to do all we can to ensure our patients get the care they deserve and are able to return home as soon as it is safe for them to do so - especially at this time of year.
We are joining Trusts across Lancashire and South Cumbria in adopting the 'Home for Christmas' campaign which aims to ensure every patient can spend their Christmas period at home where it is safe for them to do so - recovered and no longer needing hospital care, and will continue to liaise with our partners across the health and care system to ensure that we support each other at this particularly difficult time.
I would like to thank you for your support and I will continue to keep you informed.