North west hospitals put on top alert level 32 times last winter – 30 more than 2016

Hospitals in one region of England were placed on the highest level of alert 32 times over the winter period, according to a new report.

Information from the BBC today found that the number of NHS trusts in the north west put on severe levels of alert soared compared to just two hospitals given the rating during winter of 2016-17.

The sharp rise of ‘Opel 4’ alerts – meaning patient safety could be put at risk – was compounded by a spike in the number of Opel 3 alerts, which rose from 206 in 2016-17 to 1,067 at the end of last winter in March.

Opel 3 alerts require urgent action by NHS managers and signals “major pressure” on the trust.

This information comes off the back of recent data suggesting demand for NHS services last winter was at a record high. Last week it was reported that the NHS has the lowest levels of doctors and nurses in the western world.

A spokesman for NHS England said the region’s hospitals “were under significant pressure.” The sharp increase of demand for services was caused by “prolonged bad weather, high levels of respiratory illness, flu cases and a rise in the severity of illness among patients arriving at A&Es.”

“The NHS National Emergency Pressures Panel... acted promptly to help hospitals free up beds and staff to be able to care for the sickest patients,” he said, adding that more A&E patients were treated “within four hours compared with the previous year.”

Image credit: Peter Byrne PA Wire

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