Royal Lancaster Infirmary given A&E delay warning

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A Lancashire hospital's poor admissions planning could cause delays in its A&E department, the health watchdog has said.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said there was low bed capacity at Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

It said ambulance crews had also complained vehicles were being "stacked" outside, meaning patients were stuck outside the hospital.

The hospital said it was working with the CQC to improve.

The watchdog has already criticised University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust for its staffing levels.

'Trust's failure'

It conducted an unannounced inspection of the Lancaster hospital on 21 December.

Inspectors found that a lack of bed capacity in the hospital was having an adverse impact on the emergency department, the CQC report said.

It said on the night of the inspection there were no surgical beds on the surgical admissions unit, but there were people waiting for beds leading to the potential for people to be kept waiting in A&E, blocking the department.

Debbie Westhead, CQC regional lead for the North West, said: "We were concerned at the blockages caused by the trust's failure to plan effectively for admissions.

"This has knock-on effects in A&E and could put people at risk of poor care."

Tony Halsall, the NHS trust's chief executive, said: "I am concerned that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has identified a number of problems with these services.

"I understand that the issues identified by the CQC and Monitor recently, will have caused concern amongst local people. Our job now is to get the Trust back to providing the high quality care and services that the public deserve as quickly as possible.

"We are working with the CQC to make the changes needed to address the issues raised in this report and in their on-going investigation of emergency services at the Trust."

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