OVER-STRETCHED staff at Sunderland Royal Hospital’s A&E department have had winter worries eased with a £1million injection.
The Government is allocating millions of pounds to GPs to come up with schemes to minimise attendance at emergency wards, which are inundated during December, January and February.
Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group is getting £1.11million from a £150million NHS England pot being shared around the country.
Bosses at City Hospitals Sunderland have previously said that the growing number of admissions to A&E at the Royal continue to be a problem.
Almost a year ago, about 450 people turned up for treatment at the department, far more than what the facility is capable of treating.
An ageing population, a shortage of doctors and a broader range of medical conditions having to be treated were all cited as causes of the issue.
Dame Barbara Hakin, deputy chief executive and chief operating officer for NHS England, said: “We are determined to protect the good standards of service that the public have come to expect and frontline workers have worked tirelessly to deliver, despite considerable pressures.
“As a result, planning started earlier than ever before, with hospitals, GPs, social services and other health professionals coming together to work out the best way of responding in every area of the country, including the North East.”
However, unions have criticised the move. Trevor Johnston, Unison’s lead officer for health in the North East, said: “The additional funding is welcomed but is it enough to matter? It’s not a great deal of money when you consider the number of staff employed and the extra medications needed over winter.
“It seems a little amount in percentage terms to help winter pressures.”
A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland said: “We welcome any additional funds to support our Emergency Department.
“We are working closely with our colleagues in the local health community to ensure we continue to maintain and develop a first-class service and promote the correct use of the emergency department.
“We would remind all members of the public to consider carefully the appropriate route for treatment, including GPs and pharmacies, the NHS 111 Helpline, minor injury units and the possibility of self care, thus enabling our emergency teams to concentrate on those urgent cases which require specialist treatment.”