Merseyside hospitals ‘still too full’ as one in 10 fail ambulance targets

A new report has detailed continued challenges within the NHS.

A new report has detailed how Merseyside’s hospitals are ‘still too full’ and only one in 10 are currently able to achieve ambulance handover targets.

As health care services edge out of a challenging winter, an update from NHS Cheshire and Merseyside has outlined the difficulties that remain. In a written report to Liverpool Council’s social care and health committee to be discussed next week, it was said NHS Trusts across the region “continue to operate under significant pressure.”

The report by Jan Ledward, place director for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said “too many patients” are still experiencing delays in accessing timely assessment and treatment. The current position is substantially improved compared to the start of the year, but the number of people facing “exceptionally long waits in A&E has increased slightly.”

Ms Ledward wrote: “Ambulance handover times are taking longer than we would want, with only one in ten Cheshire and Merseyside hospital sites currently achieving the 15-minute target. In addition, our hospitals are still too full.

“As a result, the level of ‘corridor care’ has climbed marginally in the past week. Our aim, however, must be to eliminate corridor care altogether – not to normalise it.”

In January, NHS bosses in Liverpool said they were looking into how they can relieve the stress on social care to get people out of the city’s struggling hospitals. Ms Ledward’s report said more than 1,000 people remain in hospital across Merseyside and Cheshire who are medically fit for discharge.

The majority of those are awaiting services to support them at home. The report said work to recover services and reduce waiting times post-pandemic was “inevitably being impacted by unprecedented current pressures.”

One of the challenges cited by Ms Ledward’s report was repeated calls to 999 to request an ambulance. She said: “Repeatedly calling 999 can block phone lines for other emergencies.

Ambulances outside the Royal. Image: Getty
Ambulances outside the Royal. Image: Getty
Ambulances outside the Royal. Image: Getty

“More information about when to call 999 and when to go to A&E is available via the national NHS website.” The document, which will be debated next Thursday by council members, said national social care funding had managed to support an additional 330 news beds and more than 100 packages of care to support patient discharge.

“Significant investment” continues to be made in virtual wards to support more people to be treated out of hospital, while investment is also being made in reablement services, Ms Ledward wrote. She said: “Irrespective of how busy local NHS services are, and any NHS industrial action, it is essential that people who need urgent medical care continue to come forward – especially in emergency and life-threatening cases, when someone is seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk.”