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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > North Cumbria health economy responds to growing pressures

North Cumbria health economy responds to growing pressures

Posted on Thursday 19th March 2015
cumberland infirmary


Health and social care leaders across North Cumbria are working together to help ease pressure on busy hospital services and are urging members of the public to use emergency services appropriately.

Both the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven have faced significant and prolonged pressures in recent months with consistently high numbers of people requiring hospital admission. 

This has resulted in difficulty admitting and discharging patients, long waits in the emergency department and high numbers of patients in acute hospital beds awaiting discharge to a more appropriate care setting.

To help alleviate these pressures, NHS organisations across North Cumbria have jointly agreed to categorise the current situation as an internal major incident, in order for the hospital trust, NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, ambulance services and the local authority to divert resources, to ensure patients get the best possible care. 

The priority is to treat patients with the highest level of need and to ensure this done safely.  The main effects will be some patients may experience delays for non-urgent, planned procedures which the hospital will endeavour to reschedule as soon as possible and some patients will be diverted to nearby hospitals.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, medical director at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said:
“Our prime concern is making sure we can continue to provide safe care for patients and this becomes increasingly difficult when our hospitals reach capacity.  Given the continued and significant pressures our teams have faced over recent months, our hospitals are now struggling to admit any more patients until we can get patients flowing through the system and into appropriate community settings or home with the right package of care.”

Dr Hugh Reeve, Interim Chief Clinical Officer for NHS Cumbria CCG said: "Frontline teams are extremely busy and we would urge people to think twice before using A&E services or calling 999 which should only be used for serious life threatening emergencies."

Joanna Forster Adams, Director of Operations at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said, “We have been working closely with all partners in the health and care system as part of the joined up response to this situation for a number of weeks.  We have taken further actions today to create as much capacity as is safely possible including opening up a small number of additional beds in community hospitals.  We would like to thank our staff who have been working create additional capacity and support in all our services‎ and would like to thank staff and patients who have been affected by changes in recent weeks.”

A North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust spokesperson said: “The Trust is working closely with healthcare partners to manage the issues at North Cumbria Acute Hospital Trusts.

“Patient care and safety is always our priority and we will continue to work with partners to ensure continued focus on safely transporting patients who need to go to hospital.”

To help alleviate these very immediate pressures, the following steps have been taken:

All  non-urgent planned procedures due to take place at the two hospitals up until Friday 20 March have been postponed and will be rescheduled – all patients have been informed

Neighbouring hospitals and ambulance services are working in partnership to help manage admissions to the two hospitals

Community and social care partners are working to create additional capacity within community hospitals and rapidly organise any social care support for patients fit for discharge from a hospital bed.

The public can help by:

- only using A&E or calling 999 for serious life threatening emergencies

- choosing other NHS services such as walk-in centre and pharmacies.  Information on alternative urgent services is available from Cumbria Health on Call (out of hours) on 03000 247247.  

- staying away from hospital if they have any symptoms of sickness or diarrhoea.