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Farron: A&E Crisis Shows Need For Proper PCAS Provision In Kendal

February 2, 2016 4:35 PM

The "A&E crisis" across the bay is a stark reminder of the urgent need for a properly-funded minor accident unit (PCAS) at Westmorland General Hospital, South Lakes MP Tim Farron has said, amidst concerns about staffing levels at WGH.

There have recently been staffing problems at Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal, which have impacted on the hospital's ability to provide minor accident unit (PCAS) cover. At times, the unit has been staffed by just one lone nurse without even a doctor present to assist. The result of this is that, despite the pressure at Furness General Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, there is no guarantee that patients can be admitted to Westmorland General Hospital during the night.

Over the last few weeks, there has been growing concern as A&E units have come under increasing strain. Two weeks ago Furness General Hospital in Barrow installed a sign displaying current waiting lists, in an attempt to deter patients with less serious problems. On Sunday, Furness General Hospital put out a press release urging patients to think twice before attending A&E, and warning them that "If you are seriously ill or injured and you do need to attend FGH ED [Furness General Hospital Emergency Department] please be aware that due to the high demands on services you may have to wait longer than average."

The data also suggests that Furness General Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmiary are struggling to deal with the number of patients being admitted. According to the most recent data available, 8, 636 people attended A&E at those two hospitals in November, 89.2% of whom were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of their arrival. The national target is 95 per cent.

Both the Furness General Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary fall under the remit of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, whereas the PCAS provision at Westmorland General Hospital is provided by the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Tim has written to the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to ask for assurances they will be providing the PCAS unit with adequate staffing levels in the future, and has vowed to campaign to ensure that PCAS services are not removed from Kendal.

Tim said: "The A&E crisis across the bay underscores more than ever the need for properly-funded, properly-staffed minor accident unit (PCAS) provision at Westmorland General. This would not only provide emergency treatment closer to home for many South Lakeland residents, it would also help to relieve pressure on Furness General and Lancaster. It is simply unacceptable that somebody in Grasmere requiring urgent treatment would need to travel as far away as Lancaster to receive emergency treatment.

"I understand that due to increased demand for services, the units at Furness General and Lancaster have been overwhelmed. But if, like at Westmorland General, you start off with just one member of staff it doesn't take much to overwhelm you."