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


Home > News > Position in North Cumbria's hospitals shows signs of improvement as partners continue to work together

Position in North Cumbria's hospitals shows signs of improvement as partners continue to work together

Posted on Friday 20th March 2015
cumberland infirmary


Pressures being faced in North Cumbria’s hospitals are showing some signs of improvement since an internal major incident was declared by the local health economy at around 5.40pm on Wednesday 18 March. 

Teams continue to work within NHS major incident management arrangements in order make sure hospitals can get back to routine business as quickly and safely as possible.

The internal major incident was declared on Wednesday as both hospitals were at capacity with all possible escalation beds open.  Coordinated efforts are now focused on reducing the need to maintain escalation beds which have put a major strain on the Trust’s ability to safely carry out its normal routine business when hospitals are at capacity and patients are not flowing through the system. 

The situation has been compounded by significant numbers of patients waiting in hospital beds for longer than 20 days for discharge to a more appropriate care setting or home with the right package of care.

The current position is as follows:

  • The local health economy remains within NHS major incident management arrangements
  • A&E services on both hospital sites are showing signs of improvement with some beds identified within the hospitals for patients to be admitted
  • There have been no further patient transfers outside of North Cumbria other than the 15 patients safely transferred in the first 24 hours
  • The number of escalation beds is being successfully reduced so that the trust can provide sustainable safe staffing on all core wards
  • As a result, the Trust has today been able to carry out some planned paediatric day case procedures at The Cumberland Infirmary (previously this area was occupied by inpatient escalation beds)
  • All non-urgent  and non-cancer related planned operations or procedures due to take place at both hospitals up to and including Friday 20 March have been postponed and will be rescheduled – all patients have been informed
  • All urgent and cancer related planned operations and procedures continue to run as normal as they have done throughout this major incident
  • All outpatients appointments continue to run as normal as they have done throughout his major incident

The next steps:

  • The current raised escalation status for the North Cumbria health economy is likely to remain in place over the weekend so that all partners can help hospitals resume ‘routine business’ as quickly as possible
  • Coordinated efforts remain focussed on:
    • reducing the reliance on escalation beds so that the Trust can provide sustainable safe staffing in all core ward areas and resume business as usual 
    • ensuring patient flow throughout the system so that patients arriving at A&E who need to be admitted to hospital can be safely admitted and patients who no longer need acute hospital care can be safely discharged in a timely way to an appropriate care setting

Key messages for patients and the public:

  • There is no need for panic or alarm – the local NHS and social care partners are working well together to relieve immediate pressures and following agreed NHS major incident arrangements
  • The local NHS is continuing to:
    • remind people only to use A&E or call 999 for serious life threatening emergencies
    • think about using other NHS services such as walk-in centres and pharmacies or calling Cumbria Health on Call (out of hours) on 03000 247247 for advice on alternative urgent services available
    • stay away from hospital if they have any symptoms of sickness or diarrhoea.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, medical director at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said:
“Thanks to the co-ordinated efforts and support of all health and social care partners, we have seen some improvements in the availability of beds and flow of patients into and out of our hospitals in the past 24 hours.

“Patient care and safety remains the prime concern for all partner organisations and the major incident escalation process is without doubt helping to focus collective efforts to get patients back into the correct care setting so that our busy acute hospitals can resume normal activity. 

“Our frontline teams continue to go above and beyond the call of duty and despite the system wide issues that have stretched our hospital services in recent weeks and caused these enormous pressures, we are very humbled and proud of everyone’s response.”

Joanna Forster Adams, Director of Operations for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said:
“Our staff have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes to increase the number of people we can support in our community hospitals.  We have increased our capacity and the of flow patients through the hospitals and we have senior staff on key sites at the Cumberland Infirmary, West Cumberland Hospital and community hospitals. 

“Our mental health crisis and liaison teams are working hard to make sure mental health service users are supported appropriately and our occupational therapy and physiotherapy staff have delayed some routine activities to focus on assessment of patients to get them home as soon as possible.  Our focus remains on providing safe community services across our key services and working alongside our partners.”

Dr Hugh Reeve, interim chief clinical officer at NHS Cumbria CCG said:
“A tremendous effort has been made by all partners so that the Cumbrian health system can provide support and assistance during this incident and these efforts have shown the robustness of the system in coping in times such as these. However, this does not mean we are complacent and will continue to work together to ensure the situation continues to improve.

“We would also like to thank the public for their support during this time and again reiterate the message for people to think twice before using A&E services or calling 999 which should only be used for serious life threatening emergencies.  Alternative urgent care services are available by using the Cumbria Health on Call (out of hours) service for advice on 03000 247247.”