NHS hospital declares ‘critical incident’ as demand higher ‘than any time during pandemic’

‘Unprecedented’ pressure at Treliske in Cornwall is worse ‘than at any point during the pandemic’

Alastair Jamieson
Thursday 21 October 2021 21:55
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<p>Ambulances queueing to drop off patients at the A&E at Treliske hospital in Truro, Cornwall</p>

Ambulances queueing to drop off patients at the A&E at Treliske hospital in Truro, Cornwall

A major hospital has declared a “critical incident” after a surge in demand saw more than 100 patients awaiting treatment in A&E and 25 ambulances queueing outside.

The Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske, in Truro said “unprecedented” pressure this week is worse “than at any point during the pandemic.”

It urged “families, friends and neighbours” to collect any patients who are able to “to leave hospital sooner.”

Managers at Cornwall’s main hospital raised the operating level from OPEL4 — known as a ‘black alert’ — to an ‘internal critical incident’ to allow for greater cooperation to ease the crisis.

It comes as the government is under intense pressure to reimpose some Covid-19 measures amid a surge in cases, with many other NHS clinics and hospitals across the country facing similar pressure.

Downing Street said on Thursday there were currently 95,000 hospital beds in the NHS, of which 7,000 were occupied by Covid patients, while around 6,000 were free.

Allister Grant, medical director of the RCHT, said: “There is unprecedented demand on health and care services in Cornwall, more so this week than at any point during the pandemic.

“As a result, we have escalated our operational level from OPEL4 to an internal critical incident.

“Pressure will always be most visible at the Emergency Department where ambulances are waiting, and our priority here is to move people into wards as soon as we can.”

He added: “Last night [Wednesday into Thursday] there were over 100 people in the emergency department and more than 25 ambulance crews waiting to handover patients to go to their next call.

“Even though they are already working extraordinarily hard, our staff are supporting the opening of extra inpatient areas not only in our hospitals but in care homes who have beds available but not the staff to open them.

“Families, friends and neighbours are urged to help us, too, by offering to support someone waiting for home care to leave hospital sooner, and we would ask them to contact the ward directly if they can help in any way.

“Getting someone home a day or two sooner will mean we can free up a vital hospital bed for someone else in urgent need.”

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