Royal Lancaster Infirmary 'regrets' emergency issues

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Bosses at an NHS trust have apologised for delays in emergency treatment at a Lancashire hospital.

Patients have reported long delays in the Accident and Emergency department in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Steve Vaughan, the trust's director of operations, said it was working to alleviate the problem.

The trust has also been criticised for scheduled treatment delays and issued with a Care Quality Commission (CQC) warning notice.

Mr Vaughan, Director of Operations and Performance at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are aware that there have been some peaks in demand in the A&E department at Lancaster over recent weeks which have caused some delays in ambulance turnaround, and we are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused."

Ambulance delays

He added that the trust is working with other organisations to relieve pressure on A&E with the North West Ambulance Service ensuring less serious cases were seen in the primary care assessment service at Westmorland General Hospital.

Patients attending A&E also expressed concerns that ambulance crews were being held up by the delays.

Chris Wood, from Carnforth, said his wife had to wait eight hours to be seen by the hospital's emergency staff.

"My wife was left in the corridor outside A&E and the ambulance men had to stay with her," he said.

"There were patients queued up right down the corridor and all the ambulance people who had brought them were attending to them."

The trust's Dr Peter Dyer said that while that was "not the experience we would wish for our patients, things aren't going wrong".

'National surge'

He said the emergency department had been stretched due to a "national surge" in the number of patients attending.

"If someone were to attend with a life-threatening condition, they would be put to the front of the queue and dealt with immediately," he added.

Dr Dyer also said there was no evidence that downgrading the emergency department at the Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal had affected Lancaster.

The CQC warning was issued after inspections in July and dealt with the trust's failure to adequately assess and monitor the quality of service provision.

It was given until Monday to comply with the regulations or face further action by the CQC.

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