Weston Hospital continues to battle ‘unprecedented demand’
PUBLISHED: 12:30 12 January 2017
Weston General Hospital is struggling to cope with ‘unprecedented demand’ as its alert status was raised to the highest-possible level at the weekend, meaning it was ‘unable to deliver comprehensive care’.
People were urged to think twice before attending the Weston-super-Mare hospital’s accident and emergency (A&E) department, as it faced severe pressure due to a post-Christmas surge in numbers.
Nationwide, the NHS is struggling to cope with the demands of winter, so much so the Red Cross has said Britain’s hospitals are facing a ‘humanitarian crisis’ – a claim which has been rejected by leading politicians.
In Weston, the hospital has been battling increasing pressure for months – at one stage having to use its maternity unit as an inpatient ward – not least due to strain from North Somerset’s ageing and growing population.
The NHS uses an escalation scale to determine how much pressure emergency care is under.
Weston’s hospital was escalated to the worst-possible rating at the weekend, which means it was ‘unable to deliver comprehensive care’ leading to ‘increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised’.
The hospital’s rating is now reduced but it is still experiencing major pressures.
A hospital spokesman told the Mercury the ratings are constantly changing and said the hospital managed to reduce its rating to the second-to-lowest level – which means a hospital is beginning to show pressure – at some points during the weekend.
But, demand was so high North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) urged people not to attend A&E for anything which was ‘not life-threatening’.
The CCG’s lead for urgent care, Dr Peter Goyder, said: “We have robust plans in place to manage this demand and on the whole we are coping well but A&E departments in particular are under considerable pressure.
“The public can help us manage this demand by using the most appropriate service for their needs and, most importantly, only using A&E for genuine life-threatening emergencies.”
The news comes at the same time the hospital is struggling to discharge fit and healthy patients quickly enough, meaning it is suffering from high levels of bed-blocking. Just last month the hospital was forced to use its maternity unit as an inpatient ward to meet demand from seriously ill patients.
Beccie Watkins, clinical lead for A&E, said the hospital is responding to demand by working ‘even more closely’ with its partners to find ‘new solutions’ to relieve A&E pressures.
She added: “Our staff are also working extremely hard – their tireless efforts are helping us to manage in the face of high demand and we thank them.”