Chorley and South Ribble District General HospitalImage copyright
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Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation said it had been “exceptionally busy” this winter

A hospital in Lancashire was at the highest level of alert 87 days out of 102 over the winter of 2017-18.

The rest of the north west had 32 such “Opel 4” alerts, a potential for patient safety to be compromised, a BBC Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed.

Chorley Hospital was on high alert for nearly six days out of seven days while Preston Royal, also run by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, for 82 days.

It says it had been exceptionally busy.

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Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle described it as a “major crisis”

The Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation had initially refused to provide the information on the high alerts but now says it had a total of 169 high alerts at its two hospitals.

Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the “major crisis” at the town’s hospital “cannot continue”.

The Labour MP said: “The hospital has got to stop being in denial. It has got us all round the table and it has got to sort out the problem.

“Why is Chorley and [Royal] Preston hospital letting the people of Lancashire down and putting lives at risk?”

He said the “loyal staff” needed help and support to “deliver the services people expect”.

He said he had called a meeting with the trust and was “ready” to meet the health minister but the trust had yet to get back to him.

“It’s no use meeting the health minister until I know what the problems are,” he added.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation said in a statement: “Winter was exceptionally busy and our staff worked tirelessly to keep patients safe in challenging circumstances.

“We are already planning ahead for next winter to make sure the right services are available.”


‘Painful’

David Claringbull told the BBC his partner Norma is in Royal Preston having treatment for her back.

He said she was left for at least six painful hours in a corridor overnight on Sunday at Royal Preston.

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David Claringbull says there were seven people in the corridors at Royal Preston on Sunday

Mr Claringbull said there were six other people in corridors waiting to go in to the A&E department.

Despite the long delays to be seen he said the staff at the hospital were “dedicated and loyal”.


Figures reported on Tuesday obtained from the NHS North West Clinical Commissioning Group – which excluded Chorley and Royal Preston – showed a rise to 32 Opel 4 alerts this winter compared to two in the same period in 2016/17.

NHS England said “prolonged bad weather” and “a rise in the severity of illness” had put trusts under pressure.

Chorley Hospital’s A&E department was shut for nine months and downgraded to an urgent care service in April 2016 due to a shortage of doctors.


Opel alerts

The Operational Pressures Escalation Levels (Opel) Framework aims to bring consistency nationally in times of pressure.

Opel alerts, which can be declared for as short as a few hours, flag up pressure on the health system.

Opel 3 alerts indicate there is “major pressure” requiring “urgent action” by NHS managers.


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