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New centre for dementia research in Exeter

There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK

A specialist centre is being created at the University of Exeter to research dementia and its causes.

The Medical School will look at things like blood supply to the brain and the connections between epilepsy and dementia.

It's part of a £5 million project to encourage more scientists to study diseases such as Alzheimer's.

There are various different causes. The biggest is Alzheimer's disease. We know some of the things that go wrong in the brain and we can see some of those things for example with MRI scans and electrical measurements. And we know some of those underlying processes but we don't understand how the jigsaw comes together.

– Prof Andrew Randall University of Exeter Medical School


New help for PTSD sufferers in Devon

A new self-help group for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder has been set up at Newton Abbot.

Ex-service people who've recovered from PTSD are trained to help those who're still suffering the mental scars of combat.

Similar groups are proving very successful at Budleigh Salterton and Barnstaple.

Dan Fielding heads 'Veterans Peer Support'. He's a former Royal Marine who says his PTSD meant his family also suffered:

'NHS facing most serious crisis in years' says Exeter MP

Hospitals in the South West have been at breaking point Credit: ITV News

There are calls tonight for the government to step in and help our biggest hospitals - as they continue to cope with a bed-blocking crisis.

Today, the Royal Cornwall Hospital and the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital downgraded to red alert. Yeovil Hospital and Derriford Hospital remain on black alert.

What it's meant is that operations have had to be cancelled. Patients have had to wait for longer than the national standard of four hours in Emergency departments and patients can't be sent home - mainly because they are unable to create adequate packages of care to be able to release them from hospital.

It's creating huge backlogs. The Government gave the NHS an additional £10 million at the end of the last year. But Former Health minister Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw says its now facing the most serious crisis for many years.

Royal Cornwall Hospital no longer on 'black alert'

Royal Cornwall Hospital has been downgraded from 'black alert'.

Although this alert system has been reduced, the hospital say they will continue the intensity of working together to ensure safe, high quality services.

During the past week the health and care system has faced significant and sustained pressure. Although it remains under pressure, a decision has been made to reduce the whole system alert level from black.

– Dr Iain Chorlton, NHS Kernow Governing Body member


1000 operations cancelled at Derriford Hospital

1,000 operations have been cancelled at Derriford Hospital Credit: PA

The NHS crisis seems to be deepening across our region - as it's revealed more than 1,000 operations have been cancelled at Derriford Hospital in Devon since January.

It's currently on "black alert", which is the NHS's highest level of alert, as is the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trusts and Yeovil Hospital in Somerset.

In January we cancelled about 700 operations either on the day of surgery or in advance. I would expect February to be the same, so it will be over 1,000 and we're very sorry about that.

The patients that have attended our A&E department have needed to. We have not seen large numbers of patients attending who are inappropriate attenders.

– Kevin Baber, Chief Operating Officer for Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Devon, Cornwall and Somerset hospitals put on 'black alert'

"Black alerts" have been extended in hospitals across the South West.

It's the highest alert level the NHS has, and indicates that a hospital has officially confirmed that its services are being overwhelmed by demand.

Plymouth Hospitals Trust in Devon confirmed it has been on the alert since early January after an unprecedented level of patients. Staff are working extra shifts to cope with the increased numbers.

Yeovil Hospital in Somerset is also now on the alert.

The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust confirmed it was on the alert status last Tuesday. It continues to struggle with a bed shortage but managed to discharge 45 patients over the weekend. An extra ward is still being used.

Derriford Hospital on "black alert"

Derriford Hospital in Plymouth is on "black alert" - the highest level of escalation possible - as services are being overwhelmed by increasing demand.

Hospital chiefs said Derriford has faced this unprecedented demand since early January, and so have been in 'critical internal incident mode'. They stressed that this was not a major incident but is the highest level of escalation for a hospital Trust.

Special measures include putting patients of different genders in the same bay, or moving patients during protected meal times. Staff have also been working extra shifts to try to cope with the increased pressure.

Since the end of December we have faced unprecedented and sustained demand on our emergency and medical services, which has impacted right across the hospital.

By declaring an internal incident and agreeing this with our partners, it signals to them the pressures and risks we are facing and it enables everyone – community hospitals, social care, GPs – to take additional measures and many of these partners have been working in the hospital to help.

Our staff are working really hard, including working extra shifts, to meet the pressure and ensure our patients continue to be well cared for.

– Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust
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