Under-pressure hospital staff are praised

HOSPITAL workers have been praised for “stepping up to the plate” during a harsh winter period that saw extreme pressures placed on staff and a high level of employees struck down with a sickness bug.

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust saw an “escalated” period of activity including higher numbers of admissions in December compared to the same month the previous year.

An extra 299 patients were admitted to accident and emergency at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, which solely deals with A&E admissions across the trust, including the Hartlepool area, up to 7,285 from 6,986 from the previous December.

Attendances at the minor injuries unit at One Life Hartlepool, in Park Road, Hartlepool, in December were around 1,400 for both years. Admissions of inpatients to hospital from accident and emergency went up from 1,401 to 1,499.

There were 633 people treated in ambulatory care, where GP referrals are seen by a hospital doctor and treated within a few hours before being discharged, compared to 588 in December 2011.

Admissions to the general medicine department rose from 2,030 to 2,280 and general surgery saw an increase from 458 to 486 for that month.

December also saw 20 staff struck down with norovirus, a common stomach bug which is highly contagious and leads to sickness and diarrhoea.

Clare Curran, the trust’s director of human resources and education and company secretary, said this was the highest number of norovirus cases experienced all year.

Julie Gillon, the trust’s deputy chief executive and chief operating officer, said: “December has been another difficult month whereby our activity has escalated in comparison to the same period in 2011.”

She said there had been an increase in activity in the areas of medicine, but a decrease in activity in areas including paediatrics and gynaecology.

Trust chairman Paul Garvin said: “The whole of the trust across both sites has been under intense pressure. We have managed to stay on top of things and we have not had to close our doors and say that we are full up.

“I think it’s a real compliment to staff that they have managed to do that and I’m sure you will join me in thanking everybody for stepping up to the plate, providing additional staff and extra hours at a time when it was really difficult.”

Trust non-executive director Stephen Hall, who is also a Hartlepool magistrate, said: “I’d like to thank the staff for their valiant efforts during the pressures of December.”