Lancashire

More patients held in ambulances outside Preston A&E

Ambulances outside Royal Preston Hospital's A&E department
Image caption In May, 141 patients waited more than an hour in ambulances outside the Royal Preston Hospital

The number of patients waiting in ambulances over an hour outside an A&E department in Lancashire more than doubled, new figures show.

The rise at Royal Preston Hospital coincides with the downgrading of Chorley Hospital's emergency department to an urgent care centre in April.

In the month following, waiting times rose inside and outside the hospital.

The trust that runs both hospitals denies the situation at Preston's A&E is linked to Chorley's closure.

A month after the downgrading of Chorley, the overall attendance at Royal Preston went up by more than a quarter compared to May last year from 6,426 to 8,147.

The number of those patients waiting more than an hour in ambulances outside A&E rose from 62 in March to 141 in May.

Once inside the emergency department, 95% of patients are meant to be dealt with in four hours. In May, that figure reached just 82%.

Figures showing the situation at the Royal Preston since May are not available.

'Chaotic'

The trust's operations director Suzanne Hargreaves said in a statement: "2016 has been an extremely busy year for hospitals.

"We have only seen an average of 13 extra patients a day coming to Preston from the Chorley area."

"We are working closely with the North West Ambulance Service to reduce any delays."

Chairman of Lancashire County Council's health scrutiny committee, Steve Holgate, described the situation as "chaotic" after witnessing nine A&E ambulances waiting at Royal Preston.

He said Chorley's A&E needs to be reinstated or the operating hours of the urgent care centre extended.

"It is no longer a Chorley issue. It is a Lancashire-wide issue and to some extent the north of Manchester with Wigan and Bolton affected.

"When those are under pressure anyway, it is the sort of thing that tips them over the edge. It is putting lives at risk."

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