Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust 'should jump the queue for cash'
A Westcountry casualty unit which earlier this year was nearly forced into a lockdown as patients queued outside should be first in line for an injection of Government cash, an MP has said.
The Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that £500million bailout for A&E departments in the light of a wave of headlines warning that the service is on the verge of collapse.
St Ives MP Andrew George, who is also a member of the powerful Health Select Committee, said the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) at Treliske had been starved of cash for years and was entitled to a fair share.
"Cornwall's health service has been under-funded by £200 million over the last six years," he said.
Free consultation for thread/spider vein, mole, skin tag and wart...View details
Free consultation for thread/spider vein, mole, skin tag and wart removal
Contact: 01803 221072
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
"Problems with heavy pressure on the emergency department at Treliske have been highlighted by very long ambulance waits outside the department in recent months, amongst other indicators.
"Staff are working like Trojans, but the fact is that if Treliske cannot cope they cannot send patients to the north, south or west unlike many other parts of the country. Patients have nowhere else to go. That's why Cornwall should be high on the list of areas to benefit from these additional funds."
The RCHT's A&E department has had a difficult year and in the winter declared a number of "major incidents" as a result of a three-way hit on its resources.
Dozens of operations were cancelled, ambulances stacked and some patients forced to endure an eight-hour wait for treatment, as a result of the effects of unprecedented emergency admissions, an outbreak of a winter vomiting bug and high levels of bed blocking.
Mr George said the money would be well spent in Cornwall. "As well as more staff in the emergency department itself, some funds would have to be deployed to reduce pressures on the emergency department," he said.
"Improved primary care, NHS 111 helpline and out of hours GP services are needed to better handle patients to avoid unnecessary arrivals at the emergency department. Also better primary care and social care for the safe discharge of patients, and improved facilities, beds and more staff for more the efficient admission of emergency patients into RCHT."
The cash, announced by Mr Cameron, will be spread over the next two years to prepare the service for winter – traditionally a time of higher demand. The emergency care system has come under intense pressure, partly due to a rise in the number of people attending A&E. Over one million more people attend A&E than three years ago.
Some experts have blamed issues in primary care, saying patients feel they have nowhere to turn once GP surgeries are closed.
The new funding is aimed at A&E departments identified as being under the most pressure and will be targeted at 'pinch points' in local services.
However, a spokesman for the British Medical Association said the money was nothing more than a short term fix for NHS hospitals which were being forced to deliver millions of pounds worth of cuts.
"It is right that the Government is finally listening to the concerns of doctors and patients but, at a time when they are demanding cuts of £20 billion across the NHS, this is nothing more than papering over the cracks," he said.