Lincolnshire’s main hospital trust was among 53 singled out by health chiefs as needing financial support to cope with winter strains on their A&E departments.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust will receive an estimated £8 million as part of ‘emergency demand funding’ measures announced yesterday by Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary.
A trust spokesperson said they ‘welcomed’ the announcement and had already been working with other providers to ensure patients receive the appropriate care ‘in the right place and at the right time’.
“This will allow for our A&E staff to provide stronger and better services for those patients that need them,” the trust said.
A&E visits have risen by almost a third in England over the past decade, with increasing numbers of elderly patients and sufferers of long term conditions.
But the Department of Health says many people visit A&E ‘simply because they cannot get the care and support they need anywhere else’.
To remedy this, Mr Hunt has outlined ‘fundamental changes’ to join-up services, spanning GPs, social care and A&E departments.
“This winter is going to be tough - that’s why the Government is acting now to make sure patients receive a great, safe service, even with the added pressures the cold weather brings,” he said.
“But this is a serious long-term problem, which needs fundamental changes to equip our A&E’s for the future.”
Along those lines, ULHT said it had already been working with community, mental health services and commissioners to develop a new referral system, using the funding, to direct patients to the appropriate location.
“One of the challenges facing healthcare providers is the tremendous pressure currently placed on services and this resource will allow for alternatives to be considered,” the trust said.
Setting out how the £250 million pot of additional funding would be used by the 53 trusts this winter, Mr Hunt outlined plans for extra A&E consultant cover over weekends, better hospices and improved urgent care.
District nursing, integrated health and social care teams and ambulance services could also benefit from the funding, he said.
“In the long term, I want a 24/7 service, which recognises patients as individuals and looks out for them proactively,” said Mr Hunt.
“Starting with our most vulnerable, this Government is going to support the NHS in doing exactly that.”