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Local ambulance staff back MP's plan for Kendal Urgent Care Centre

January 17, 2017 5:56 PM

Tim with ambulance workersFrontline ambulance staff and union representatives are backing Tim Farron MP's call for an Urgent Care Centre to be set up at Westmorland General Hospital to alleviate the A&E crisis in Lancaster.

A&E at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) has faced a growing crisis, and has even had to resort to discouraging patients from turning up. Ambulances are regularly left queueing outside the hospital for hours, while patients inside have been left on trolleys in corridors because the unit is under so much pressure.

Local ambulance staff and Unison representatives from the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) have decided to publicly back Tim's call for an Urgent Care Centre at Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal. This would be an upgrade of the current PCAS centre, open 24hrs per day, meaning that it could deal with more serious cases and help to relieve the pressure on the RLI.

At the moment, staff estimate that only around 1% of ambulance calls - around one ambulance per day - is able to go to Kendal. A 24hr Urgent Care Centre in Kendal would see this figure increase drastically, meaning only the most serious cases would have to go to the full A&E at Lancaster. Currently, ambulance crews can only attend the PCAS unit in Kendal between 8.30-22.00hrs.

Tim said: "Paul and Michael see the situation first-hand day in day out, and know that it is not sustainable. We cannot just wait for this crisis to blow over, knowing that the hospital will come under even more pressure as winter sets in. It is vital that we make real changes that will relieve the pressure on Lancaster. An Urgent Care Centre in Kendal provides this solution. My thanks go to Paul, Michael and Unison for backing this plan."

Paul Carlisle, an NWAS Emergency Medical Technician based in Kendal and Unison representative, said: "When I turn up to the RLI on a daily basis, I see doctors and nurses working tirelessly under immense pressure, sometimes without breaks. However, it is now not unusual for ambulances to wait 2-3 hours, which is totally unacceptable. We have a system that is broken, and we need to tackle this issue head on. Nobody wants to see ambulances stacked up outside hospitals, least of all patients. The Ambulance Service estimates that ambulance delays cost in excess of £4 million per year. The time has come to invest in the Westmorland General Hospital, and to relieve pressure from an already buckling A&E unit at RLI."

Michael Oliver, an NWAS paramedic and Unison convenor, added: "It has become "the norm" to have ambulances queuing in A&E waiting to handover patient care. It should not be the norm it is unacceptable. We fully support a campaign to see investment made to upgrade Westmorland General Hospital to an Urgent Care Centre available 24hours a day. This should improve ambulance response times by freeing up local ambulances more quickly and reduce journey times for patients in South Cumbria."

Residents can show their support for the campaign to bring an Urgent Care Centre to Kendal by signing the petition here: www.timfarron.co.uk/urgentcarecentre