Hospitals already feeling the bite as winter sets in

North Tees Hospital. D19284
North Tees Hospital. D19284

Hospital chiefs say they are already starting to feel the pressure of winter biting after an increase in patients being admitted and people staying longer.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust says it is operating at 99 per cent occupancy levels and has called for more funding to help deal with the traditional winter spike in demand.

Chief executive, Alan Foster.

Chief executive, Alan Foster.

Julie Gillon, trust chief operating officer said it had seen an increase in the number of people coming through the doors and more patients with complex needs requiring greater care.

For 10 days within the last month the trust operated at a heightened state of alert, known as NEEP level 4 – just one off a major incident. It is currently at level 3.

The NEEP (North East Escalation Plan) calculates how busy a hospital is, with level one being the lowest and level six being the highest.

Ms Gillon told a trust board meeting: “We have opened beds and managed patients safely, but again we need to look to our colleagues in the commissioning world to support system resilience.”

We have asked for more money, the £1.4 million will not be enough

Alan Foster, Hospital trust cheif executive

She added the trust has seen a slight increase in admissions through A&E, but delayed discharges throughout October were having a big impact on patients’ length of stay.

In October and November, the trust admitted around an extra 70 patients on to wards from A&E compared to in June.

New nurses recruited by the trust from the Philippines and Romania are due to start work at the end of January.

Trust leaders again expressed concerns around how much money they have been allocated to cope with the winter demand and have pleaded to commissioners for more.

Chief executive Alan Foster said: “We have asked for more money, the £1.4 million will not be enough. There is no recognition of the reality on the ground.”

Dr Boleslaw Posmyck, chairman of Hartlepool and Stocton-on-Tees CCG, who was at the board meeting, said: “I’ve heard what has been said. We have started discussions with yourselves regarding funding pressures.”