Ambulances diverted away from Preston A&E amid 'quite a backlog' of patients

Aerial view of Royal Preston Hospital
Aerial view of Royal Preston Hospital

Ambulances have been diverted away from Royal Preston Hospital as medics and casualty staff work to clear a backlog of patients.

Paramedics have reported being turned away at the door after arriving at the emergency department, and said the move is 'putting a huge strain on other hospitals that are already struggling'.

A hospital spokeswoman said 'appropriate' patients were being diverted to Chorley and South Ribble District General Hospital 'because of a backlog', but said A&E remains open and has not closed.

"Never has a hospital around here been on divert," one ambulance worker told the Post this afternoon, describing the situation as 'absolutely crazy'.

"A&E is really quiet; it must be the wards. They have turned numerous ambulances away.

"For us it means increased transfer times to hospital and therefore increased demands on the service.

"It also means busy A&E departments at Blackpool, Chorley and Lancaster at hospitals already under huge strain. For patients it means pretty much the same."

Chorley’s A&E closed in April last year becasue of a shortage of doctors. It reopened in January, but only for 12 hours a day.

Both hospitals are run by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and were told to improve their services for patients in April.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC)'s report outlined issues surrounding the flow of patients through A&E and staff shortages in the Critical Care Wards at Royal Preston Hospital.

Issues in the hospital's medical care, urgent and emergency services, surgery, and intensive/critical care were also highlighted, though caring was described as 'good'.

In a report published earlier this year, the College of Paramedics explained the effect A&E diverts have on ambulance services - and patients.

National spokesman and practising senior paramedic Richard Webber said: "Diverts from A&E departments have an impact on paramedics’ ability to reach seriously ill and injured patients in an appropriate time frame.

"While we are sympathetic to hospitals that are forced to implement diverts so that they don’t reach dangerous levels of overcrowding, in non-urban areas in particular the extra time taken to reach more distant A&E departments is significant.

"There is a ‘double whammy’ in that not only do crews have to drive further away once a divert is implemented – once that’s happened, an ambulance crew will then also need to travel further to get back to their own area to respond to the next emergency call.”

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has been contacted for a comment.

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