"An outstanding, caring and effective team."

About: Royal Lancaster Infirmary

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During the last 3-4 years I have regularly attended the LRI A&E department. Generally when I arrive (via ambulance usually) I am extremely unwell due to respiratory problems. I'm quite often unconscious or close to unconscious. I have specific treatment needs and protocols in place that must be adhered to. The staff know me well and treat me properly and quickly. If I encounter staff that aren't as familiar with my case there is always someone that knows me that will step in and provide information. A&E staff have repeatedly saved my life. On occasions, I have arrived at A&E via ambulance with my children with me. The staff always ensure that my husband is informed that the children are in A&E. The staff put them safely in the relatives room (so that they aren't frightened by my condition) where a member of staff keeps them safe and refreshed. This keeps them calm at a time that can be very uncertain & frightening for them. The A&E staff are phenomenal.

The A&E staff work the front line. They are often directly in the line of fire from patients, relatives & bureaucracy all at once. In the waiting area in A&E patients and relatives can only see the very shallowest layers of a department that has many more complexities than is immediately obvious. Walking wounded arrive, register at reception and sit down to be triaged. That generally happens in order of arrival. The subsequent wait after triage is where things become complicated. It can appear that patients aren't seen in order. That they are seen before you but you feel you are suffering more than them. It's hard to consider what is happening behind the doors that you haven't gone through yet. The more serious patients stay out of view from the waiting area. It's hard to consider the hidden pressures of the A&E department.

An observation from my last 3 visits to A&E is that the staff have the added difficulty of trying to ensure that patients don't breach. They have to get patients through A&E within a time frame. If they don't they get fined. In an ideal world that would be fine. The difficulties that LRI face with this is, they are a small hospital with limited numbers of beds. LRI serves a massive geographical area yet the NHS provisions are that which would serve a small town only. LRI are juggling excessive patient numbers with vastly less resources, staff etc.. than other hospitals. The guidelines that are national guidelines for A&E waiting times, are the same (or just about the same) as they are in the huge city centre hospitals. The difference being that the bigger hospitals have more resources (bed, staff, funding etc..) to keep within the recommended timeframes.

LRI A&E provide an exceptional service despite the obvious disadvantages they face. Patient's best interests are always at the heart of the staff, hence they continue to work despite the hostile opinions that they face regularly through no fault of their own. I'm surprised we have the brilliant staff we do there.

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Response from Royal Lancaster Infirmary

Many thanks for your kind comments regarding the staff in A and E at RLI. We'll ensure we pass these onto the staff concerned. Many thanks again for taking the time and trouble to comment.

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