Hospital gripped by winter beds crisis as resilience fund is slashed

THE area’s hospital has been gripped by a beds crisis as shocking new figures reveal the government slashed annual funding to help ease pressure on the wards ahead of this winter.

Bosses in charge of Barrow’s Furness General Hospital received just £1.265m in winter resilience cash for each of the last two years to help them cope with increased admissions and unprecedented pressure on A&E.

The sum is in contrast to the £3.879m grant received from health secretary Jeremy Hunt ahead of winter 2014/15. It means hospital leaders have had less income to spend on innovative measures to reduce the vice-like pressure on bed space despite seeing more patients than ever before.

Some 90,690 people attended A&E departments within University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, FGH’s parent organisation – throughout 2016 compared to 86,709 the previous year.

Trust deputy chief executive Aaron Cummins, director of finance, said: “The winter resilience funding for this financial year is £1.265m, the same amount issued in 2015/16.

“This funding is used to help trusts across the country appropriately deal with the increase in patients that attend hospitals in the winter months.”

The news comes just a week after staff working across the trust scrambled to see 10 new patients arriving through the doors of its A&E departments every hour over the New Year’s bank holiday weekend. It resulted in FGH and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary being placed on escalation level four – the most severe tier before a major incident is declared.

Waiting times for patients in the emergency department rocketed while medics searched desperately for available beds so they could admit patients waiting in the emergency department. An appeal for off-duty doctors and nurses who could report for work to boost staff numbers was launched.

Full story in North West Evening Mail 11 January 2017