• Blackpool Teaching Hospitals FT reported performance of 40 per cent against the four hour waiting standard in type one A&E in December
  • Trust says it was under “severe and sustained pressure” over Christmas and new year
  • Overall headline performance against the four hour standard was 79 per cent

Health leaders have apologised to patients after reporting performance of 40 per cent against the four hour waiting standard in its main accident and emergency department.

In December, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust also reported that 75 patients requiring admission waited more than 12 hours to be admitted. There were 497 breaches against this standard nationally.

A spokesman said it was under “severe and sustained pressure” over the Christmas and new year period.

Once the performance of its urgent care centre and two walk in centres in Blackpool and Fleetwood were included, the trust’s overall headline performance against the four hour standard improved to 79 per cent, according to data published by NHS England today.

A House of Commons library researcher, who has collated A&E statistics since 2004, said on Twitter that Blackpool’s figures represented the “lowest type 1 performance on record”. Type one refers to major A&E departments.

The trust is part of the Fylde Coast “vanguard” project to design new models of care aimed at preventing hospital admissions, and part of this work has involved “streaming” non-emergency patients from the main A&E department to the urgent care or walk in centres.

Although overall attendances increased by 6 per cent last month compared to December 2016, type one A&E attendances reduced by 13 per cent.

Health economy leaders said this has led to a larger proportion of high acuity patients in the A&E ward at Blackpool Victoria Hospital who need “more care and attention from our senior clinical teams prior to admission”.

The overall four hour performance was six percentage points worse than the England average in December, compared to three percentage points worse in December 2016. The trust performed better than average in December 2015.

The number of emergency admissions reported by the trust will also raise concerns for local leaders. In the first three months of 2017-18, total emergency admissions were up 8 per cent on the same period in 2016-17, compared to a 3 per cent rise in England.

The trust reported a 6 per cent increase in quarter two and an 11 per cent increase in quarter three, compared to the same periods the previous year. England had increases of 3 and 4 per cent respectively.

A spokesman for the Fylde Coast health economy, which also involves Blackpool and Fylde and Wyre clinical commissioning groups, said: “Our primary concern during this period was the safety of patients and the compassion and commitment of staff ensured that the level of patient care remained high through these challenging times.

“However, we are of course sorry for any extended waiting times experienced by patients and their families during this exceptionally busy period. We thank them for their understanding and courtesy to our staff.

“The situation has improved over the last week and we would like to thank our fantastic staff for their ongoing efforts during this extremely challenging period and the public for their understanding and cooperation.”