Measures including the addition of a new 24-bed modular ward are being taken to try and help Blackpool Victoria Hospital cut long waiting lists.
Hospital bosses are also sending some patients for treatment at Blackpool’s Spire private hospital, and bringing in private companies to treat NHS patients at BVH when NHS staff are unavailable.
The number of patients on the waiting list at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals in August 2021 was 21,229, which is an increase of 1,710 patients from 19,519 in August 2020.
Treatments are being held up as doctors are unable to discharge some patients due to the staffing crisis in social care, a meeting of Blackpool Council’s adult social care and health scrutiny committee was told.
Blackpool Victoria Hospital is working to cut waiting lists
At one point recently there were 106 patients medically fit to go home, but they were kept in hospital as care packages were unavailable.
Meanwhile new patients are arriving at A&E with more serious illnesses and requiring a hospital bed because of delays in seeing a doctor when their symptoms first appeared.
Janet Barnsley, executive director of operations at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “There are some patients that are ready to leave us but due to shortfalls in care packages and domiciliary care, we are unable to discharge a cohort of patients which adds pressure to the front door.
“That is combined with patients presenting at A&E whose acuity has increased and they are presenting in a very poorly condition and need admission.
“We feel some of that is also associated with the pandemic as people didn’t present when they first became unwell and therefore their condition has deteriorated.”
The meeting heard recruitment difficulties in the social care sector was a further obstacle.
But Ms Barnsley said the hospital had been able to restore all its services, with up to 95 per cent of surgery restored, and diagnostics restored by 103 per cent.
She added it had been important for staff not to “burn out” after working hard through the pandemic so additional capacity had been found from external providers.
This includes a contract with the Spire Fylde Coast Hospital, and also external companies coming in with their staff to use BVH facilities such as operating theatres, which would otherwise be under utilised, to treat NHS patients.
The hospital has also received funding to install a new 24-bed modular ward at the BVH site which would will help reduce waiting lists for routine surgery.