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NAO report shows need for Kendal Urgent Care Centre - Farron

January 26, 2017 9:51 AM

A National Audit Office report published today (Thursday 26th Jan) has found that across the UK half a million ambulance hours were lost in 2015/16 due to turnaround times at A&E departments taking over 30 minutes. South Lakes MP Tim Farron has reiterated his call for an Urgent Care Centre at Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal, to help relieve this pressure.

The report states that each failure to meet the 30 minute standard means "a delay and poor experience for the patient waiting to be received; and a delay in an ambulance crew being available for a new emergency call… This poses a potential safety risk and causes emotional distress."

Figures obtained by Tim earlier this month revealed that more than two thirds of ambulances dropping patients at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary took longer than 30 minutes to turnaround. Of the 24 days covered by the statistics, the average turnaround time was within the 30-minute standard on just 7 days. The longest turnaround time was 3 hours 46 minutes, on the 12th December.

Tim s calling for a 24hr Urgent Care Centre at the Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal, to relieve pressure on the RLI. At present, ambulance crews can only drop patients at the PCAS unit in Kendal between 8.30-22.00hrs

Tim said: "This report shows that lengthy ambulance turnarounds are not just a waste of staff time, they also have an impact on patient safety. At the A&E in Lancaster, the pressure the unit is under means it is the norm for ambulances to be stuck waiting in queues for more than 30 minutes. As winter sets in, this will only get worse and the pressure will increase.

"This is a problem that affects the whole country, but here in South Cumbria there is a clear solution. A 24hr Urgent Care Centre at Westmorland General Hospital, which could deal with more serious cases than the current PCAS unit, would mean less pressure on Lancaster and shorter ambulance trips, as more patients from the South Lakes would be taken to Kendal.

"Local ambulance staff, who see these problems on a daily basis, are backing these plans. They know that NHS staff are working hard under a lot of pressure, but that the A&E at Lancaster is operating at capacity, and sometimes beyond.

"The government must also face up to the reality that our NHS and care system needs more cash. If this means raising taxes to pay for it, that is something the Liberal Democrats are prepared to do."

To sign Tim's petition for an Urgent Care Centre at Westmorland General Hospital, go to: