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  1. ITV Report

Behind the scenes at region's top performing casualty unit

Photo: ITV News

The onset of Winter has put growing pressure on hospitals which are already feeling the strain financially. Major units such as Derriford and the Royal Devon and Exeter are on alert Level 3 - the second highest level, as they try to cope with patient demand.

In Barnstaple, the North Devon District Hospital has been praised at a national conference for the way it's coping.

Credit: ITV News

Last week this was the top performing A&E department in the country, beating the patient waiting time target and getting people through the system quickly.

Today's a fairly standard day. It's cold outside and icy as you know and we've seen more people with slips and trips and falls this morning than we might do on a warmer day but that's just to be expected and we're ready for that.

Certainly in the last couple of years we've found that all year is busy and we can't predict when our busier times will be and we have to put the staff on the whole year to account for it being busy the whole time.

– Liam Kevern, Consultant, Emergency Medicine

While it might feel like a hotel to some, of course they don't want people staying here any longer than they have to.

Here they have a focus on patient flow and cutting down the amount of time they're waiting to move from one department to the next.

We only have a finite number of beds. We're always looking at how best to treat patients and the sooner we can get them home safely the better because yes that frees up space for more acutely ill patients to come in.

– Andy Ibbs, Director of Operations

To make sure the system is running as smoothly as possible they get together for a tactical meeting twice a day, tracking the flow of patients.

Credit: ITV News
Credit: ITV News

At this time of year, with sickness bugs around, it can be easy to slip to a higher alert level - what they appear to be doing well here is getting back on track and quickly.