September 05, 2022

West Yorkshire Emergency Services Under 'Continued Pressure'

Inspectors have found that emergency services are under "continued pressure" and people continue to experience delays in accessing care. This has led the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to call for urgent improvements to reduce pressure on urgent and emergency care across West Yorkshire.

Additionally, issues with staffing and capacity as well as struggles to meet demand have been reported among several services. The Health officials say they were "committed" to improving the system.

The CQC was now looking at the partnerships between organisations and Integrated Care Systems which plan and deliver health and care services.

The CQC inspected over 15 individual services across West Yorkshire between March and May, including care services, GP surgeries, Bradford Royal Infirmary and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Ann Ford, CQC director of operations network, said: "During the urgent and emergency care inspections across West Yorkshire, staff were working hard under sustained pressure. It was reassuring that leaders were working together to support their workforce and to identify opportunities where improvements could be made. However, people continued to experience delays in accessing care and treatment."

According to findings made by the CQC, some A&E departments experienced long delays while others performed relatively well. Thus, people's experiences of emergency departments had been varied depending on which service they accessed.

TAnn Ford said the main cause of the delays experienced was delays in discharging people as a result of people not being able to access community or social care services which according to her must be addressed as a matter of priority.

CQC inspectors found:

  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust had improved in response times and handover delays, but performed below performance targets.
  • Issues with staffing and capacity in care homes and domiciliary social care services had in some cases affected the timely and safe discharge of patients from hospital.
  • There were reports from some social care staff about significant challenges in relation to the process of hospital discharge which sometimes have led to people returning to the hospital.

The report however noted that there was good understanding of the problem, with officials looking to improve the process

Additionally, the NHS 111 service is experiencing significant staffing issues which has led to increase in demand most especially from people who are trying to access dental treatment.

There are now plans to recruit new staff as well as put in place a system to manage dental advice and assessment.

The CQC also said that staff sickness rates and increased patient numbers had caused challenges at Bradford Royal Infirmary's emergency department.

Vacancy rates have also increased due to difficulty retaining staff. The trust has however implemented measures to address these issues.

In response to the inspection, Dr Adam Sheppard, Chair of West Yorkshire Urgent and Emergency Care Board, said: "Their reflections on areas of good practice and good relationships with coordinated action are reassuring [and] it is also notable that they highlight consistent pressure, staffing and social care capacity as issues in West Yorkshire, as these feature consistently in most areas across the country as challenges that need to be addressed. We are acutely aware of the challenges faced by our staff and by local people and are absolutely committed to working together across the whole of the system to better join up care, and to deliver safe care for all.”

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