Worcestershire's hospitals struggling to cope

By Ian Dipple Tuesday 31 December 2013 Updated: 31/12 18:38

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OPERATIONS have had to be cancelled and extra medical beds made available due to pressure on the county's hospitals.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust say there has been sustained emergency demand on both of its A&E departments over the festive period, with the Worcestershire Royal struggling in particular.

Bosses say demand is up ten per cent on the same time last year with 3,140 people admitted between the last week in November and December 15, despite efforts by commissioners to reduce demand through A&E departments.

As a result the Trust has been placed on level four escalation - the highest possible - meaning radical measures will be taken by the health system to ease the pressure over the next few days.

Extra medical beds are being made available on Avon 4 at the Worcestershire Royal, the elderly care ward, while all planned operations, other than the most urgent, have been cancelled at both the Alexandra Hospital and Worcestershire Royal for the rest of the week.

Anyone scheduled to have a planned operation should call the hospital before attending.

Social services and Worcestershire Health and Care Trust, which runs the county's community hospitals, are also putting in extra measures to free up space and ensure patients can be discharged quickly once they no longer need acute medical care.

Statistics from NHS England designed to demonstrate the pressure on the system during the winter period show between November 28 and December 18 the Trust cancelled more than 70 operations, there were 333 occasions when an ambulance had to wait more than 30 minutes because A&E departments were overwhelmed, while bed occupancy levels have continually been running at over 95 per cent.

At one stage there were also 73 beds unavailable because the patients occupying them could not be discharged.

A spokeswoman for the Trust said: "We would like to place on record our thanks to all staff for their hard work and commitment at this time."

The public are also being urged not to attend A&E unless it is an emergency and instead are being urged to attend GP surgeries, which are open as normal except for New Year's Day, the minor injuries unit at the Princess of Wales Community Hospital or a pharmacist for minor conditions.

Dr Jonathan Wells, chair and clinical lead of Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "We're urging the public to choose the right NHS service this winter, and pharmacies are the best place to get the right advice and treatment for coughs, colds and flu, along with many other illnesses.

"Another useful service to remember is NHS 111, which offers health advice and information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

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