‘Internal Critical Incident’ Declared At Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The Chief Executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Trish Armstrong-Child, has today (04.01.22) declared an “internal critical incident” due to “operational challenges across the organisation”. The Trust is responsible for Blackpool Victoria Hospital and two smaller community hospitals, Clifton Hospital and Fleetwood Hospital.

The challenges at Blackpool Victoria involved the Hospital running at full capacity, long waits in A&E and high staff sickness absence levels of above 10 per cent this morning (Tuesday 4th January). Outbreaks of Covid in the community have also resulted in more people being admitted to the hospital each day than those discharged.

Natalie Hudson, Chief Operating Officer at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTH), said:  ‘Like hospitals across the country, we are currently seeing very high demand for our services and long waits to be seen in our emergency departments and across our urgent care pathways, continued challenges to discharge patients who no longer medically need to be in hospital but have nowhere to go or no care package in place, and very high levels of bed occupancy, all of which is exacerbated by rapidly rising rates of Covid-19 in our communities and rising rates of admission to hospital which is creating further pressures around discharge, as well as a significant impact on staff absence rates across the organisation.

Because of the pressures the trust is under, we have made the decision to declare an internal critical incident which means staff across the trust will be working together today to take actions immediately to attempt to alleviate the pressure we are under including stepping down some non-urgent activity in order to deliver all of the things we can and need to do to provide the very best care possible.

We will also be working across the Fylde Coast with our partners too, to ensure care packages and support are provided as quickly as possible to aid discharge, and encourage the public to help us respond to this period of high demand by doing everything they to protect their families and friends by ensuring they are fully vaccinated and following guidance around social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing their hands, and crucially seeking help from the most appropriate health services, only attending A&E for serious accidents and emergencies, and using NHS 111 first to seek advice about the most appropriate care for your needs.’

Below is the full detailed statement from Trish Armstrong-Child, Chief Executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust:

‘I will ask colleagues from across the Executive and Senior Leadership Team to provide more details and specific updates and ‘asks’ throughout today and, indeed beyond, but I wanted to write first with an overview.

You will be aware that the NHS nationally recently upgraded the response to Covid to a Level 4 Incident. In addition, the Trust has now declared an internal critical incident. This is reflective of the operational challenges across the organisation, which include:

  • We continue to experience high demand and long waits to be seen in our Emergency Department and urgent care pathways
  • Blackpool Victoria Hospital is running at full capacity and we are escalated into both day case units, which means we are utilising all available beds
  • In addition, capacity at Clifton Community Hospital has been increased
  • We continue to struggle to discharge people who no longer meet the medical criteria to reside in hospital and this is becoming more difficult with increasing outbreaks of Covid in the community
  • This has resulted in more people being admitted to hospital each day than we are discharging which simply cannot be sustained as Covid infections continue to surge
  • This entire operating context is being exacerbated by high numbers of Covid-positive patients and those classed as ‘contacts’ needing inpatient treatment
  • And lastly, but most importantly, the Trust itself is being impacted by high staff sickness absence levels of above 10 per cent.

I am aware of the long and protracted nature of our response to the pandemic – and thank everyone for everything being achieved, each and every day. I know colleagues are exhausted and the ask apparently relentless.

Nevertheless, your help and focus in ensuring we continue to prioritise safe and effective care for all patients has never been needed more. I also want to ask you to continue to support each other during this extremely difficult time.

I know colleagues across divisions will be working together today to ensure specific team priorities and actions are identified, agreed and actioned across all areas. This must include stepping down activity which is not critical as well as delivering all of the things we can and need to do to provide the very best care possible.’

Map below from Mail On=Line

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