New plan to avoid winter chaos at Vic

Ambulance crews could face a busy time this winter
Ambulance crews could face a busy time this winter

Health chiefs have plans in place to avoid the “chaos” which hit Victoria Hospital last winter after it faced huge numbers of emergency admissions.

But NHS Fife’sproposals will need the backing of the other agencies to make sure they have enough beds - and cutting the numbers of patients staying in hospital longer than necessary.

That was the message given to members of its board on Tuesday by Dr Brian Montgomery, medical director and acting chief executive.

The plan also has £4m of funding to help towards solving some of the problems experienced over the winter months,.

These included five patients being treated in four bedded units, and the number of emergency admissions greater than the number of beds available - but Dr Montgomery said the hospital stillfaced many challenges.

“This paper is the outcome of a process which starts in June each year and in the main looks back over the previous winter and ahead for the forthcoming winter,” he explained.

Highlighting some of the statistics, Dr Montgomery said that, going into the winter of 2012/13 there had been a steady improvement in performance.

Emergency admissions should be seen within four hours of arriving in hospital, and while this improvement had been sustained at Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, it had been ‘‘variable’’ at the Vic.

“Last year at this time we were in a good place and had achieved relatively steady progress on the right side of the line,’’ he said.

‘‘But when it came to November through to February we were constantly outwith the target and struggling to get there.

“Over the past few months we have found ourselves in a pretty good shape and we would like to try to maintain that.”

The detailed plan sets out what is required to maintain the flow of patients in and out of wards and the hospital’s capacity to manage emergency admissions effectively when demand is at its highest.

It also looks at the work being done to address pressures arising from delayed discharges and problems recruiting staff.

David Stewart, chairman of NHS Fife’s operations division told board members: “We have to support these plans. If we don’t I can guarantee we will have chaos in the Vic this winter, equal to or worse than last year.”

He also warned that the plan would have to be implemented timeously because the infrastructure had to go into place before winter.