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05.01.17

Kettering declares ‘black alert’ as pressure mounts on A&E

Another hospital has warned that A&E demands are at critical levels and urged patients to only use its services in a genuine emergency.

Kettering General Hospital NHS FT declared a ‘black alert’ status this week, and Peterborough General Hospital has also declared a critical internal incident and asked patients to seek alternatives to A&E.

Between 19 December and 1 January, 3,318 people attended Kettering General’s A&E, 6.2% higher than the same point last year, while hospital admissions were up by 10.5%.

Clare Culpin, the trust’s acting chief executive, said: “I know that people have heard this before but I am appealing to local people to do everything they can to avoid the need to come to hospital.”

She urged patients to use pharmacists, GPs or Corby Urgent Care Centre where possible.

The news comes as NHS trusts are experiencing unprecedented winter pressures, with the existing growth in demand and shortfall in resources making the impact of seasonal illnesses and accidents worse.

Late last year, leaked NHS England and NHS Improvement documents revealed that the health service is so concerned that trusts are being urged to transfer patients to private services if necessary.

Rebecca Brown, chief operating officer of Kettering General, indicated that delayed discharges were also adding to the long A&E waiting times. Delayed discharges, linked to difficulties finding appropriate care for elderly patients as the social care sector is also suffering funding shortages, were already at a record high in September this year.

Brown said that local people could also help the hospital by ensuring family members were discharged as quickly as possible.

“We are seeing some very poorly patients who urgently need hospital beds,” she said. “One of our messages would be to the families of patients who are currently with us would be to support us to facilitate an early discharge. If your relative needs residential or nursing home care – please help us by arranging this as swiftly as possible.

(Image c. Andrew Matthews from PA Archive)

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