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Scarborough A&E Safe Says Report

Scarborough A&E Safe Says Report

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Carl Gavaghan at 12:05pm 19th March 2019. (Updated at 6:53am 20th March 2019)

Pressures over recruitment and an ageing population will be major issues facing Scarborough Hospital in the coming years, an investigation has revealed.

The first stage of the Scarborough Acute Services Review has been published today (Tuesday) following data collected from staff and patients.

While no recommendations have yet been made, the retention of the hospital’s accident and emergency department has been promised by health chiefs.

The report outlines the four key challenges that acute services currently face, particularly in relation to the changing needs of the population, the ability to recruit specialist staff, meeting national standards and targets, and making the best use of available resources.

Work is now underway to plan the next phase of the review.

This will involve using the information gathered so far to look at a range of possible ways these services might be delivered.

It is expected that, from this work, a shortlist of possible options will be developed.

Mike Proctor, chief executive of York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Scarborough Hospital, said:

“At the start of this review all partners were absolutely clear in their belief that there was a need for Scarborough Hospital to have a 24/7 emergency department. The evidence gathered so far in the review supports this.

We now need to build on this work and develop our workforce models to make sure that people who live in the Scarborough area can continue to access the care they need now, and the care they will need in the future.”

The report highlights that 46% of jobs in Emergency and Acute Medicine are vacant, with locum or temporary staff used to cover roles at “significant” cost.

In 2017/18 an estimated £10.7m was spent on agency staff at Scarborough and Bridlington hospitals, which equates to 11.6% of the total expenditure on staff.

The review also found that 51% of people visiting A&E at Scarborough had “minor” conditions that could have been dealt with by visiting a GP or a pharmacist.

There is some good news for the A&E department though as the trust has recently secured £40m in funding to  create a Combined Emergency Assessment Unit.

There were also concerns raised, however, about the falling numbers of births in the town.

The report notes:

“Scarborough Hospital is one of the smallest obstetric units in the country delivering 1,400 babies a year, the national average is 3,000.

Owing to population changes it is expected that the number of babies born at the hospital will decline further over the next seven years.”

The number of babies born in the hospital is predicted to drop by close to 1% a year.

Other pressures faced by the hospital include the 5 million or so nights spent in the town by visitors each year, thereby swelling the population of the hospital’s catchment area.

The base catchment area of the hospital is predicted to grow by 0.2%  a year and reach 181,000 by 2025, but the number of people aged over 70 is expected to grow by 15% over the same timeframe. At the same time, more than 5,000 new homes are expected to be built in the borough.

The report found that treating some conditions on an outpatient basis could be one option moving forward.

For example, Scarborough Hospital sees more patients admitted for urinary infections, flu and lung disease than other areas in the country, which other centres treat as outpatient conditions.

Evidence collected shows that recruitment to the coast continues to be an issue for health chiefs.

The report stated:

“In July 2018, there was a 26% consultant vacancy rate at Scarborough Hospital.

[In total] 26% of the consultant workforce is over 55 years old.

There are particular challenges staffing General Surgery and Urology, A&E, and General Medicine, which means there is a reliance on locum staff to ensure there are enough staff to provide safe care.

In July 2018 there was a 16% vacancy rate for registered nurses.

Junior doctors don’t always gain the experience they need, for example in Obstetrics and Gynaecology services, less than five in ten trainees say they have gained adequate experience compared to larger centres, which explains why they prefer to work elsewhere.”

The review is being carried out by the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust alongside the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership, North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups and the East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

The next step of the review will be talking to patients, staff and other medical groups to determine an action plan based on the evidence collected.

Amanda Bloor, accountable officer for the North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups, added:

“We want everyone in our communities to have the best possible care.

By supporting GPs, hospital staff and community-based services to work together we can help people live healthier lives. This might mean responding differently to local health challenges to meet the changing needs of our population.

We will continue to engage with and talk to staff, patients, and other stakeholders, including external experts like the Royal Colleges during this process.”

You can read the full review here: https://humbercoastandvale.org.uk/scarboroughreview/

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