NHS crisis in Cumbria: Wards full, beds blocked and ambulance handovers delayed

Countess of Chester Hospital issues guidance to patients whose operations may be cancelled

Countess of Chester Hospital issues guidance to patients whose operations may be cancelled

"Emergency department doctors are asking people not to go to A&E unless it's a life or limb-threatening emergency, or if they have been advised to go there by a healthcare professional", the message reads. Pharmacists can offer over-the-counter medicines for a range of winter illnesses, and NHS 111 can provide medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It was five hours until she was seen by a doctor - an experience she described as "scary".

It comes after national figures on Thursday, which showed a jump in the number of patients left waiting in ambulances outside A and E departments for more than half-an-hour.

The same figures show that the number of acutely ill patients forced to wait more than half an hour outside A&E departments while waiting for a bed jumped to 16,900, almost 5,000 on the week before.

To add to the winter woes of the health service, NHS managers this week announced the cancellation of tens of thousands of non-urgent operations in an attempt to ease the pressure on hospitals.

"I recognise that it's hard for people who are facing delays". These figures show once again the challenges they are tackling. The staff have been excellent, however, she was due to move off that ward on Sunday, once she was up and walking (recovering well, fortunately), but the lack of beds meant she had to stay put until Wednesday.

"We have worked with our partners across the local health care economy to have our plans aligned to support this busy period".

Jeremy Hunt yesterday acknowledged the health service needed "substantially more resources" in the future.

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At UHNMT, 99.3 per cent of 1,421 beds were full on December 28, with the average for the period hitting nearly 98 per cent.

We are simply not coping, we were at full capacity before the sorts of pressures that we should be able to manage - like a rise in flu - is pushing us over the edge.

It added that hospitals could continue to defer operations considered not to be urgent, to "free up capacity for our sickest patients" to January 31.

We are reviewing this on a weekly basis and if there is a chance of an appointment or procedure being cancelled our teams will always look to speak to patients directly in advance.' Said a hospital spokesperson.

"Given that last winter was one of the most challenging that hospitals had faced for well over a decade, it is worrying that many hospitals are already under significant pressure as they struggle to cope with increasing demand for their services".

"Dr. Peter-Marc Fortune, from the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, said pressures have reached "extreme" levels", and even NHS England's director for acute care, Professor Keith Willett, "suggested the situation was at its worst since the 1990s", reported the paper. The recommended safe limit is 85 per cent.

In Barrow's Furness General Hospital and other sites run by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, 91 ambulances arrived at the doors of emergency departments on Dec 25, with 11 delayed up to an hour and two waiting more than 60 minutes to hand the patient over safely.

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