Local hospitals under extreme pressure
Kettering and Northampton General Hospitals are currently under considerable emergency pressure and are urging local people to use NHS services appropriately.
A large number of patients requiring emergency care has built up pressure on wards and A&E departments over the Christmas and New Year period - which means both hospitals are concentrating their efforts on emergency care.
As a result both hospitals have had to cancel many planned operations and routine outpatient clinics today (Tuesday January 2) to ensure there are enough beds for emergency patients.
Both hospitals are contacting all of the affected patients and sincerely apologise for the inconvenience.
"We have very good systems and procedures in place to ensure our patients are safe and that we’re prioritising our most unwell patients."
Dr Sonia Swart, chief executive of NGH said: “Our senior staff have been spending time with patients and their families to give them assurances that although they may be waiting longer than we would like, we have very good systems and procedures in place to ensure our patients are safe and that we’re prioritising our most unwell patients. We’re also asking our patients and their families to talk to their care team so they understand why they are waiting and what their treatment plan is.
“Our local community can help us at this challenging time by coming to collect their friends or relatives as soon as possible once they are ready to leave, so we can make sure our most unwell patients coming into hospital from A&E can be admitted quickly and safely.”
"The average age of inpatients is 74, many with multiple medical conditions, and these poorly patients have to be our priority."
Kettering General Hospital’s Chief Operating Officer Rebecca Brown said: “We are under extreme pressure at the moment and are caring for a large number of older people who need urgent treatment.
“The average age of inpatients at the moment is 74, many with multiple medical conditions, and these poorly patients have to be our priority at present.
“Clearly we would like to devote as much time as possible to caring for these patients so that they get well quickly and do not need to stay in hospital for extended periods of time.
“Local people can help by not attending A&E for conditions which they could wait and see their GP for. Or maybe they could access other NHS services such as the Corby Urgent Care Centre, NHS 111 advice line or their local pharmacist.”
New patient every four minutes
Since December 24 Kettering General Hospital has had an average of 253 people attending A&E each day and Northampton General Hospital has had 360.
In addition at KGH we admitted 767 ill patients to our hospital beds over this period and Northampton General Hospital admitted 770 patients.
Maintaining a good level of discharges is also important with both hospitals struggling to maintain enough discharges to free up space for emergency admissions.
Deborah Needham, NGH’s Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Between Christmas Eve and today, we’ve seen on average a new patient every four minutes in our emergency department. Both acute hospitals are urging local people to do everything they can to support discharge. Anything people can do to help their relatives to return home - or into appropriate community care – as soon as possible is very helpful because any delays in discharge only add greater pressure on the hospitals’ front lines.”
Both hospitals wanted to thank staff who are going above and beyond normal duties to deal with the current pressures and to keep all patients safe.
Examples of appropriate use of A&E:
- Serious medical problems such as chest pain, collapse, or heavy blood loss.
- Severe limb injuries which are very painful and could be caused by a broken bone
- Burns which are large, or deep, and need dressings
- Deep cuts which won't stop bleeding/may have damaged tendons or may need stitches to heal properly
Examples of inappropriate uses of A&E:
- Coughs and colds - most people would be best just to stay at home or see their local pharmacist
- Old injuries or joint problems - are best seen by your GP, at least initially
- Queries about medication - these are best dealt with by your GP
- Toothache - you need to be seen by a dentist. Hospitals like Kettering General do not have trained dentists in A&E
- Trying to use A&E to get a 'second opinion' rather than using the GP service
Don’t visit people in hospital if you feel unwell
In the Winter time we often expect to have more coughs and colds and just struggle on with normal life.
But if you are planning to visit a friend or relative in hospital please think twice if:
You have obvious signs of an infection – runny nose, sneezing, high temperature – it could be just a cold or might be flu. Even colds can affect patients in hospital and delay their recovery or make their condition worse.
Experienced vomiting and/or diarrhoea in the last two days – it could be Norovirus and you may still be infectious.
Keeping potentially dangerous bugs like Flu and Norovirus out of hospital is very important because we have many elderly patients who are already unwell and whose resistance to these infections is often lower.
Stay well advice
Winter can be seriously bad for our health but there a number of things you can do to keep you and your family well this winter. If you start to feel unwell, even if it's a cough or a cold, don't wait until it gets more serious. Get advice from your pharmacist. Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet helps you to treat common illnesses like coughs and colds, at home.
It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors as it can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes pneumonia and depression.
Check up on older neighbours and relatives, and those with heart or respiratory (breathing) problems, to make sure:
- they're safe and well
- are warm enough, especially at night
- have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather
Click here to find out more about how to stay warm and well this winter.
Posted on Tuesday 2nd January 2018