Hos­pi­tals over­whelmed more than ever be­fore

Nottingham Post - - NEWS - By DAVID PITTAM

THE num­ber of times Nottingham’s emer­gency depart­ment has been un­der se­vere pres­sure this year has risen sig­nif­i­cantly.

So far this year, Nottingham Univer­sity Hos­pi­tals has de­clared OPEL 4 – for­merly known as black alert – 21 times. It was de­clared only 11 times last year.

OPEL 4 means the hos­pi­tals trust is so over­whelmed that it can­not de­liver com­pre­hen­sive care and there is “in­creased po­ten­tial for pa­tient care and safety to be com­pro­mised”.

The alert is trig­gered by pres­sure across the emer­gency depart­ment.

The hospi­tal has also con­sis­tently failed to hit its tar­get of see­ing ev­ery­one who vis­its A&E - at the Queen’s Med­i­cal Cen­tre - within four hours.

Mike Scott, chair­man of the lo­cal Keep Our NHS Pub­lic group, said: “The old prob­lem is now evolv­ing into a new prob­lem. Tra­di­tion­ally there have been spikes in the num­ber of peo­ple com­ing in win­ter and it has qui­etened down in sum­mer.

“But that seems to be chang­ing and it didn’t calm down this sum­mer. It should be a mas­sive con­cern for ev­ery­one likely to use the NHS - and that’s pretty much all of us.

“The Gov­ern­ment seems to be the only or­gan­i­sa­tion that hasn’t re­alised this and not put the money in. It’s a se­ri­ous worry and the si­t­u­a­tion will get worse un­til the gov­ern­ment gets to grips.

“The trust is do­ing ev­ery­thing it can to try and re­duce the im­pact on the same money they had be­fore.”

The win­ter of 2017-18 was the worst on record for Nottingham Univer­sity Hos­pi­tals, with op­er­a­tions can­celled and wait­ing times ris­ing in the face of un­prece­dented de­mand.

In Jan­uary, more than 100 hospi­tal beds were oc­cu­pied by pa­tients with flu.

Work is now un­der way to get ready for the colder months and learn from this year’s ex­pe­ri­ences.

This in­cludes mod­ernising and ex­pand­ing A&E, cre­at­ing a 48-bed com­mu­nity-run fa­cil­ity at Nottingham City Hospi­tal and open­ing an ex­tra 116 beds through­out win­ter.

Around £4.5 mil­lion of Gov­ern­ment fund­ing is go­ing into the A&E ex­pan­sion

A spokesman for NUH said: “Health and so­cial care part­ners in Not­ting­hamshire are work­ing to­gether to pre­pare the sys­tem for win­ter. While an ad­di­tional cost pres­sure to the trust, this ex­tra ca­pac­ity is con­sid­ered a re­quire­ment to en­sure the de­liv­ery of safe care to our pa­tients and min­imise dis­rup­tion to our pro­gramme of planned op­er­a­tions.”

A Depart­ment of Health spokesman said: “We’re sup­port­ing the NHS with an ex­tra £420 mil­lion this win­ter to re­de­velop A&ES, im­prove emer­gency care and help get pa­tients home quicker, while the long-term plan to guar­an­tee the fu­ture of the health ser­vice will be backed by an ex­tra £20.5 bil­lion a year by 2023-24.”

Queen’s Med­i­cal Cen­tre

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