‘We will prioritise the sickest patients’ over non-emergency visitors to A&E, health bosses have said as winter pressures set in.
The director of operations at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust Simon Evans confirmed the organisation had seen a ‘high number of very sick patients with complex needs’ and that it had cancelled a ‘small number of planned operations’ - including four yesterday (Tuesday).
However, he added the cancellations were not all ‘due to winter pressures of bed capacity.
Mr Evans said: “The quality and safety of patient care is the Trust’s number one priority. As part of our winter plan we schedule fewer non-urgent and non-cancer operations so we are able to prioritise emergency patients.
“Like many trusts we have seen a high number of very sick patients in our hospitals with complex health needs, which means despite our best efforts due to the demand we are not able to admit all patients for their routine operations as planned.”
He apologised for any distress caused to patients and their families who had had their operations and procedures cancelled and reassured them the trust would try to rearrange these as quickly as possible.
“The advice to patients is that if you do not hear from us, please assume that your appointment or operation will be taking place and attend as normal.
“If people do come to A&E and it is not an emergency they will have a long wait as we will prioritise the sickest patients. Our advice is please consider if you could be helped by visiting your local pharmacy, by contacting your GP, or attending a walk in centre or urgent care centre.”
“If you do become unwell and need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency, call NHS 111 for clinical advice, assessment and for direction to the most appropriate services for treatment.”
Earlier today (Wednesday), the Government’s Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt apologies after services across the county reported they were struggling with a surge of patients since Christmas.
Patients across the UK have had to cancel non-urgent treatments until the end of the month according to NHS England.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust was recently awarded £2.4 million of a total £3.9 million across the county to help with winter pressures.
The money was part of a £350 million amount set out in the chancellor’s autumn budget to help the NHS nationally.
The majority of the funding was said to be used to fund additional health services in the community in a bid to keep people, where possible, at home and where they want to be.
Some of the funding was also used to provide therapy serices and extra doctors working weekends and bank holidays.