North Cumbria’s hospitals have continued to perform above the national average for the 95% emergency care standard despite the busy winter period.
The Trust has been ranked as 42nd out of 139 Trusts with a major Accident & Emergency department in England for December 2016.
The national standard is that 95% of patients should be seen, treated, admitted or discharged from A&E in under four hours. The national average for Trusts was 79.3% and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust’s overall performance was 85.78%.
Helen Ray, executive chief operating officer at the Trust said: “The latest national data shows that, despite the challenges and pressures we are experiencing in line with hospitals across the country, our dedicated staff are constantly striving to deliver the best service we can and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work.
“We will continue to focus on doing everything we can to improve our performance because behind those figures are our local communities who deserve to receive timely and quality healthcare services when they need us the most in our emergency departments.
“The public can also help us with this by ensuring they only access our emergency services in serious and immediate emergencies.”
In December 2016 and January 2017, almost 15,000 people attended North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust’s A&E departments at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven. However, only around 4,000 (just over a quarter) of those people actually needed admitted to a hospital bed. Many had less urgent or serious problems which could have been looked after by another service in the community.
A&E departments are there to treat serious emergencies such as suspected stroke, persistent and severe chest pain, sudden shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, severe abdominal pain or blood loss and broken bones.
The Trust would also like to urge people not to attend hospital for common winter ailments which can normally be treated at home such as norovirus (diarrhoea and vomiting), which is highly contagious and can easily spread to patients in hospital as well as members of staff.
Helen Ray added: “Whist we encourage people to attend our hospitals if you are seriously unwell, I would like to remind people of the alternative options available for less serious conditions.
“Our staff are working under pressure and must prioritise patients based on their clinical need, focussing on those are seriously ill and in need of urgent attention. People with less serious conditions may face a long wait and therefore there may be a quicker and more effective way to access the help they need such as seeing a pharmacist, their GP or by calling 111.”
The Trust would ask that people consider the following advice:
- Common winter illnesses are best looked after at home with over the counter medication, plenty of fluids, rest and recuperation
- Please seek help from a high street pharmacist if you start to feel unwell with a cough or a cold
- GPs can treat the majority of healthcare needs and are the first point of contact for most medical problems
- NHS 111 is available 24/7 for urgent medical advice including out-of-hours GP services