Don’t go to A&E unless it is a genuine emergency, urge over-stretched local hospitals

Peterborough City Hospital's Covid-19 figures are now stable, according to The NHS hospital trust board.

Peterborough City Hospital's Covid-19 figures are now stable, according to The NHS hospital trust board. - Credit: Archant

Accident and emergency departments across our region have called for people to keep away unless it is life threatening after reporting that their service is stretched to bursting point.

The plea comes amid news that routine operations have been cancelled at some hospitals as they struggle to find patient beds following high demand on the health service due to a massive winter illness problem.

Emergency operations and cancer treatments are still going ahead.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge has declared a state of emergency by cancelling all non emergency surgery and urging patients not to attend A&E unless it was absolutely essential.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn is on black alert since the weekend and patients being asked to find, where possible, A&E alternatives.

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Peterborough City Hospital has declared an “internal major incident” as medical staff struggle to cope with soaring patient numbers.

The 611-bed Bretton-based hospital currently has no vacant beds yet has at least 19 patients in its emergency department who need medical care that only the hospital can provide.

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NHS England statistics show the Christmas period was a tough one for our hospitals with just one A&E department in our region hitting the target of seeing 95 per cent of patients within four hours.

A major or internal incident is a sign that things have got exceptionally busy and special measures are needed to cope.

The declaration allows hospitals to call in extra staff to help cope.

Neil Doverty, chief operating officer at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The trust declared an internal major incident following a weekend of greater levels of emergency admissions and fewer patients being discharged, due to either being medically unfit or awaiting further care arrangements to be put into place in the community across all counties we serve.

Addenbrookes Chief executive Dr Keith McNeil said that the hospital has been under “extreme pressure” since New Year’s Eve and “for the past two days we have been in critical internal incident mode.”

The hospital was dealing with especially high numbers of frail elderly patients combined with a record level of patients whose medical care is finished and whose discharge is delayed.”

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn press spokesman Adam Jackson said: “Our advice to patients is that we are very busy, and to only come to the hospital with urgent needs. This is part of winter pressures on hospital trusts.

“We’re certainly not closing our doors, but we are asking people to consider alternatives to coming to A&E, such as GP surgeries and pharmacies.”

In Norwich, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital declared an “internal major incident” which meant it cancelled a lot of elective surgery, while still treating the most urgent cancer and emergency cases.

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