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Emergency departments in crisis as staff struggle to cope with surging demand
ALMOST 100 extra hospital beds have been opened as patients continue to besiege Worcester’s under-pressure A&E department.
As staff battle to keep on top of a relentless surge in emergency admissions, hospital bosses are pleading with them to stay away and seek alternative treatment elsewhere.
Warning bells were first sounded at Worcestershire Royal Hospital last week, when a rise in patients over Christmas saw the highest level of escalation– level four – declared.
Although that has now been dropped to level three, concerned medics say demand at A&E in Worcester is still “unprecedented”.
They are pleading with people to help them lift the pressure and create space in squeezed A&Es by taking less serious injuries such as cuts and fractures to one of Worcestershire’s minor in-jury units for treatment.
As well as allowing staff to provide emergency treatment to those who really need it, heading to minor injuries will also allow people to be seen more quickly – with average waiting times currently less than 20 minutes.
With the A&E department at Redditch Alexandra Hospital also remaining under pressure, A&E attendances across Worcester-shire Acute Trust are up more than 10 per cent on this time last year and emergency admissions have been consistently running at more than 1,000 a week.
A dozen extra beds were opened at Worcestershire Royal over the weekend, on top of 76 that have already been opened over the last few weeks.
Stewart Messer, chief operating officer at Worcester-shire Acute Trust, said: “Demand for A&E services across the both sites is now at unprecedented levels.
“We are working with colleagues across the health and social care community to try and ease the situation.
“Across the county work is also being done to ensure easier access to community hospital and social care beds for those patients who no longer need acute hospital care.
“Patients can do their bit by ensuring that they only come to A&E if it is absolutely necessary.”
There are minor injury units at community hospitals in Malvern, Evesham, Bromsgrove and Tenbury, as well as one at Kidderminster.
The community hospitals are run by Worcestershire Health and Care Trust, which is working with Worcestershire Acute to try and ease the pressure on A&E departments.
Community care lead Matt Stringer said: “We know that there is a significant number of people who go to A&E with a minor injury which can be treated much quicker at one of the minor injury units.
“On average most people wait about 20 minutes before they are seen at an MIU and if more people with minor injuries used this service it would free up the capacity at A&E so our colleagues there can support those people who really do need emergency care.”
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