COLUMN: As predicted, winter has been busier than ever for the NHS

This column has been provided by Andrew Morgan, chief executive of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust ...
CEO of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust Andrew Morgan.CEO of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust Andrew Morgan.
CEO of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust Andrew Morgan.

​​Forecasts predicted that this winter would be challenging for the NHS, and in Lincolnshire our hospital Emergency Departments (EDs) have been busier than they have ever been.

Between Thursday, December 1, 2022, and Monday, January 15, 2023, we saw and treated 12.5 per cent more patients at Lincoln, Boston and Grantham EDs, compared to the same period a year before.

At peak times, this increase in attendances rose to more than 20 per cent and as patients were also more unwell, we saw an almost 15 per cent increase in the number of patients who needed to be admitted to a ward from our EDs.

Pilgrim Hospital's A&E department.Pilgrim Hospital's A&E department.
Pilgrim Hospital's A&E department.

These increases have also coincided with increases in cases of flu, Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses, both in our hospitals and in our communities.

We have done everything possible to keep up with the demand, but unfortunately at times this has not been possible and has resulted in long waits for some of our emergency patients. This has included opening more than 100 additional beds within our hospitals.

Due to the complex health needs of our patients, we have also seen an increase this year in the number of patients who need onward support once they are discharged from our care. We continue to work closely with our partners in the NHS and adult social care to make sure this is in place once a patient no longer needs the care of an acute hospital.

There are a couple of things that we can all do to help. If you have a relative that is due to be discharged from hospital and needs to be collected, please do so as early as possible. Patients can often return home sooner if they are collected rather than waiting for hospital transport. This will help our teams and free up a hospital bed for someone waiting to be admitted.

If you need urgent medical care but it’s not an emergency, please visit NHS 111 online or call NHS111 for advice on how to get the care you need at any time of day or night. For other non-urgent cases, please speak to your GP practice or a pharmacist.

Please take up the opportunity to be vaccinated against flu and Covid-19 when invited to do so.

Finally, I would like to thank the people of Lincolnshire for their ongoing support.