The Queen’s Medical Centre is on ‘black alert’ for a third day and patients are asked to stay away from the emergency department unless in the case of a real emergency.
Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) Trust, which runs the QMC and City Hospital, has said an increase in respiratory and frail elderly attendances after Christmas in the emergency department has contributed to increased pressure.
NUH announced on Wednesday (January 3) 58 further routine operations and the reduction or cancellation of seven outpatients clinics would happen between Wednesday and Friday (January 5).
It comes as Prime Minister Theresa May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt both reportedly apologised for the mounting problems on the NHS.
May said that cancelled operations were ‘difficult’, ‘frustrating’ and ‘disappointing’.
Black alert is the highest level of alert and means that the hospitals are under severe pressure and are struggling to cope with the amount of people that need their services.
A hospital being placed on black alert is reported as a ‘serious incident’ to NHS England, which can be reported when a service at the hospital is threatened.
‘Serious incidents’ are also reported where one or more patients, staff members, visitors or members of the public experience serious or permanent harm or alleged abuse.
The emergency department is currently in OPEL (Operational Pressures Escalation Level) 4, the highest escalated level, which NHS England describes as: “Pressure in the local health and social care system continues to escalate leaving organisations unable to deliver comprehensive care.
“There is increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised – decisive action must be taken by the Local A&E Delivery Board to recover capacity and ensure patient safety.
“All available local escalation actions must be taken, along with external extensive support and intervention.”
The full statement from Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust, which runs the QMC, said: “Our hospitals are extremely busy following a sustained increase in respiratory and frail elderly attendances and admissions post-Christmas.
“Staff across NUH and the wider health system remain absolutely focused on providing timely and safe care for emergency patients and supporting staff, many of whom are working above and beyond in very pressured circumstances.
“We urge patients not to come to our emergency department unless it is a real emergency so that we can prioritise those who most need our care and treatment. Information on alternatives can be found here.
“We have already significantly reduced the number of routine operations planned over the coming weeks as part of our winter plan.
“NHS England has this week asked all hospitals (including NUH) to consider cancelling additional outpatient and routine operations for the remainder of January to alleviate the current pressures on emergency services.
“NUH has reviewed these recommendations and has taken the decision to cancel 58 further routine operations and reduce or cancel seven outpatient clinics between Wednesday and Friday this week as we prioritise keeping our present patients safe and scheduling cancer and urgent operations.
“We apologise to patients for the inconvenience caused and will be in touch in the near future with new appointments and dates for surgery.”