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A&E at bursting point - Hospital urges patients to only visit in a real emergency

The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading is urging patients to only visit if it's a REAL emergency after the casualty department has seen its busiest weeks of the year so far.

Usually, A&E staff treat around 250 to 280 people across Saturdays and Sundays. But last weekend there were around 350 people wanting attention. Kate Bunkall has our report.

  1. Tom Savvides

Hospital A & E departments may close

The new boss of a Health Trust hasn't ruled out closing an Accident and Emergency Department. Matthew Kershaw has been appointed the Chief Executive of East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust, which has three main sites in Ashford, Canterbury and Margate and two smaller hospitals in Dover and Folkestone. The Trust is currently in special measures but Mr Kershaw believes he can turn fortunes around. Tom Savvides reports.

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Royal Berkshire Hospital's A&E 'formally closed'

Royal Berkshire Hospital formally closes after power outage Credit: ITV News

A water leak that occurred in the early hours of this morning meant the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, lost power in Battle and North Block of the hospital, which also resulted in power outage. Areas affected included our elderly care wards, critical care unit, stroke unit and some outpatient areas.

Mary Sherry, Chief Operating Officer for Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said:

"Our staff have been working hard through the night to ensure areas impacted by yesterday’s power outage and isolated fire are back to normal.

“All water has been restored across the hospital. We now have the majority of power back on in North Block; however, we continue to have power issues on the north side of Battle Block, due to the extent of water damage. Our engineers on site are doing all that they can to ensure full power is restored as quickly and as safely as possible.

“Patients from the Coronary Care Unit were moved to Lodden Ward because of the smoke from yesterday’s isolated fire. These patients will remain on Lodden Ward until the area is ready for them to be returned safely.

“The hospital is currently in major incident status due to the uncertainty of when full power will be restored to Battle Block and North Block. To ensure patient safety, we will be moving patients from Battle Block to other areas of the hospital.

“Our A&E is formally “closed” to anything other than life-threatening conditions. Members of the public are asked to either attend an urgent care centre, a walk in centre or A&E at Wexham Park, Stoke Mandeville, Frimley or Basingstoke with whom we have arranged a formal divert.”

– Royal Berkshire Hospital

Hospitals under pressure from too many patients

Hospitals in east Kent are currently extremely busy, caring for large numbers of people who are seriously ill.

The onset of winter weather has resulted in a surge in attendances at A&E particularly by older people and people with lung problems, many of whom need to be admitted for inpatient care.

The NHS has robust plans to provide the right treatment for people who are seriously ill but is appealing to people who don’t have a serious or life-threatening illness or injury to avoid going to A&E and to seek care elsewhere.

A&E under pressure Credit: Press Assocation

It is estimated that between 15 and 25 per cent of people attending A&E could be treated by another NHS service.

If you have a health problem and are not sure what to do or who to contact, please use the Health Help Now web app which lists services and gives health advice and information for east Kent: www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net.

If you need medical help fast but it is not a 999 emergency, ring NHS 111.

If people have had a serious accident or consider their condition to be life-threatening, then A&E may well be the right place to go and we would encourage them to do that.

But we still see thousands of people every year attending our A&Es with symptoms that could be treated at home, by a GP or pharmacist or at a minor injuries unit.

We are asking you if it’s not urgent to stay away from A&E and keep it free for those who really need the specialist care it provides.

Use Health Help Now or NHS 111 and help us to help you.

– Jane Ely, Director of Operations

Hospital A&E Warning

East Kent Hospitals covering Ashford, Canterbury and Margate are struggling to cope with patients coming to Accident and Emergency. It's particularly bad at the Kent and Canterbury where they're dealing with almost 200 patients a day.

That's double the usual number. NHS Managers say only people with life-threatening and serious illnesses should go to A and E.