No beds left at Weston General Hospital as 'unprecedented demand' sees maternity unit used as inpatient ward

PUBLISHED: 07:02 16 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:09 16 December 2016

Weston General Hospital.

Weston General Hospital.

Archant

Weston General Hospital was busier than it has ever been at the weekend, as patients faced up to 12-hour waits for beds and doctors had nowhere else to place 'elderly and at risk' women but in its maternity ward.

"Weston is also a growing town, with an ageing population, and we’re seeing increasing numbers of frail and acutely unwell patients needing admission."

Director of nursing, Helen Richardson

The number of people attending the Weston-super-Mare hospital’s A&E department surged, with patients requiring beds which were simply not there.

‘Unprecedented demand’ is plaguing the site at the same time as a new local NHS plan says admissions must reduce by 30 per cent.

Weston’s hospital is working on its own sustainability plan but it is already struggling to cope and the weekend’s pressure was so great it was placed on black alert, as it rushed to open overflow wards.

The news comes as statistics show hundreds of patients spent more time in hospital than they needed to in the past year, with thousands of days lost due to bed-blocking.

Weston’s hospital, in Grange Road, was so busy from Friday to Sunday it had to open its overflow zone on Cheddar Ward and use its maternity ward as an inpatient ward.

The risk level at Weston General Hospital is now deemed as manageable.The risk level at Weston General Hospital is now deemed as manageable.

A hospital spokesman told the Mercury its demand rating has now reduced to red alert, meaning it is still busy but the risk is deemed to be manageable.

Dr Lyons said: “Over the weekend we experienced unprecedented levels of demand on our A&E services, with high numbers of frail and very unwell patients, many of them elderly women, needing to be admitted into hospital.”

He said no women were due to give birth at the hospital at the weekend, so the ‘difficult decision’ was made to turn the maternity unit into an inpatient ward because ‘all other wards were full’.

He added: “It’s not a decision we took lightly, but patient safety is our absolute primary concern. We had to prioritise the care of our elderly and frail patients who were most at risk.”

But, even with the unit being opened for inpatients, some people still faced excessive waits in A&E.

Director of nursing, Helen Richardson, said: “Weston is also a growing town, with an ageing population, and we’re seeing increasing numbers of frail and acutely unwell patients needing admission, who often require more complex care, treatment and discharge planning.”

One of the reasons the hospital is full to capacity is because it is forced to keep healthy patients on its wards, as there is often no place for them to go following discharge.

From November 2015 to October this year a total of 438 patients had delayed discharges, meaning 9,255 bed days were taken up by people who could have been sent home.

Ms Richardson said work is being done with social care and healthcare commissioning partners to ‘speed up patients’ transfer of care’.

* For the full story pick up a copy of this week’s Weston Mercury.

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