The ‘unprecedented demand’ on hospital services for Hartlepool patients has been laid bare – after it was revealed bed occupancy rates had risen well above the recommended safe limit.
Figures released by NHS England show that, for the period from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve, at least 91% of hospital beds at North Tees and Hartlepool hospitals were taken.
The underlying problem has now developed into a full-blown crisisGlenn Turp
That is above the previously recommended safe limit of 85%, demonstrating the winter pressures services are under.
In the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust area, 96.8% of hospital beds were occupied on New Year’s Eve and December 29, with high figures also including December 28 (96.4%) and December 27 (94.4%).
Julie Gillon, interim chief executive at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The trust is experiencing unprecedented demand for services, something which has a significant impact on our bed occupancy levels. Our priorities are patient safety and the well-being of our staff.
“In our resilience planning for winter we have taken a number of steps to help to reduce this pressure, which includes NHS England advice and cancelling elective operations for the next two weeks, with the exception of those procedures that are cancer related or time critical, and also reviewing all outpatient clinics and only cancelling appointments as appropriate for a two-week period.
“We have had a number of calls from concerned patients who may be affected by this.
“We know how important it is for people to be communicated with and reassured.”
Patients with concerns are asked to call 01642 746059.
The Royal College of Nursing claims the situation is now a ‘full-blown crisis’.
Glenn Turp, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing in the northern region, said: “NHS Trusts across Cumbria and the North East are at bursting point, with over 90% of beds being used by many hospitals – well above the 85% safe limit recommended by experts.
“Nursing staff are struggling to hold the NHS together and the situation continues to get worse with increasing demand from an ageing population and a severe nursing recruitment and retention problem.
“The RCN has been warning of under-investment in nursing staff for years.
“That underlying problem has now developed into a full-blown crisis.”
People are being urged to only attend an emergency department in emergency situations.
Those with concerns are asked to call the NHS 111 service, when they will be advised, and an ambulance will be called if needed.