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Royal Cornwall Hospital declares 'black alert'

Royal Cornwal Hospital in Truro has seen a dramatic rise in emergency admissions Credit: ITV News

One of the West Country's biggest hospitals has been placed on black alert, after a dramatic rise in the emergency admissions.

On Thursday, 125 ambulances brought patients to the Royal Cornwall Hospital - 30 more than normal.

Patients are being told not to come to casualty unless it is a genuine emergency.

Royal Cornwall Hospital has today declared a black bed state with significant demand for our services. Patient safety is our top priority both in our emergency department and supporting patients to get home or to onward care.

The local community can help by using alternative services wherever possible such as minor injury units, urgent care centres, GPs and pharmacies to keep the emergency department for emergencies and supporting relatives and friends to come home from hospital.

– Royal Cornwall Hospital spokesperson

Royal Cornwall Hospital back on Black Alert

The Trust says they are exceptionally busy. Credit: PA

An "unprecedented" demand for services at the Royal Cornwall Hospital have placed it back on Black Alert status for the fourth time this year.

This is the highest level of alert, which usually means bed capacity has been reached and that patients arriving at A&E will have to be taken to another hospital.

People are being told to stay away unless it is a genuine emergency - and where possible pick up relatives and friends as soon as possible, when they are ready to go home from hospital.

  • Read more: What does Black Alert mean?

The Emergency Department team is under significant pressure and non-emergency patients are strongly advised to use alternative services to avoid long waits.

As always I want to thank our staff for their extraordinary commitment to caring for and treating patients in difficult circumstances and our priority will always to keep patients safe and prioritise according to need.

– Paul Bostock, Chief Operating Officer at RCHT

People are being asked to choose what kind of care they need carefully - the NHS 111 helpline can give advice as to the nearest and most appropriate service.

You can also visit the NHS Choices website.

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Region's hospitals declare black alert

Credit: ITV West Country

Hospitals in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have declared they are on black alert.

The Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, the Bristol Royal Infirmary, Southmead and Weston General Hospital are among those placed on the system-wide black escalation status on Monday.

It comes after a huge influx of people using the A&E system and health bosses are now urging people to only use A&E for life-threatening emergencies.

People are instead encouraged to visit walk in centres, pharmacists or call NHS helpline, 111.

Credit: ITV West Country

It's the second time in a month the hospitals have declared the status.

In recent days we have seen an increase in hospital admissions together with a higher number of very ill patients who need to stay in hospital for longer.

We are coping with demand and have put in place a range of measures to increase capacity and ensure that people are discharged once they no longer need specialist hospital services.

However we do anticipate that we will remain in escalation for a number of days and encourage people to help us manage pressure in the system by using services appropriately and avoiding A&E for non-emergency conditions.

– Dr Peter Goyder, Bristol CCG Clinical Lead for Urgent Care and local GP

Somerset doctor: Help local NHS by avoiding A&E

Dr Ed Ford, Somerset CCG's GP Lead for Urgent Care Services urges the public to use their local health services responsibly by not using busy hospital A&E departments or calling 999 for an emergency ambulance with only minor illness.

The advice comes after some health and social care systems in the region declared 'Black Alert'status.

The current pressure upon Somerset's health and social care services is not simply a district hospital problem, but involves social care, GP’s, NHS111 and community services. There is some capacity in the community for patients to be treated but we are finding that some patients prefer to stay in the acute hospitals rather than be discharged into a community placement that is not their choice.

I would like to remind the public that they can help their local NHS by avoiding district hospital A&E Departments with only minor illness or ailments and making use of the many other services options available to them. If they are not sure what is the right health service for their needs they can use their local pharmacy or telephone NHS111, the free 24 hour NHS health helpline.

– Ed Ford

Operations postponed and A&E departments struggling

Operations have been postponed and A&E departments are struggling to meet targets as hospitals across the region remain on 'Black Alert'.

The exact number of operations cancelled haven't been disclosed.

The Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, the Bristol Royal Infirmary, Southmead and Weston General Hospital all remain in system-wide black escalation status.

Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital and Bath's Royal United Hospital are on 'red alert' - one level below black.

A&E STATISTICS

5 out of 8 of our hospitals didn't hit their A&E target of seeing 95% of patients within 4 hours over the weekend.

Some were even falling as low as 60%.

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Yeovil Hospital downgraded from black to red alert

The severe pressure on emergency services at Yeovil District Hospital has eased slightly, with the hospital no longer at "black alert".

The alert status has now been downgraded to "red alert", the second highest possible level of severity. The hospital is still very busy and says it is facing significant operational challenges.

Black alert occurs when the hospital can no longer deal with the number of patients coming into A&E because too few are being discharged.

HOSPITALS STILL ON BLACK ALERT

  • Southmead Hospital
  • the BRI
  • Bristol Royal Hospital for Children
  • Weston General Hospital

WHAT DOES RED ALERT MEAN?

A hospital on red alert means that wards are still very busy with limited bed space. All non-urgent work and clinics are usually cancelled so that resourced can be concentrated on the emergency services.

It also means urgent actions are required across the local health system by all partners to prevent the hospital going into black alert.

Top doctor: People still using A&E 'unnecessarily'

Bristol CCG Clinical Lead for Urgent and local GP Dr Peter Goyder has condemned those using A&E unnecessarily and warns it may lead to continued black alert status.

Over the previous two weeks, like many parts of the country, we have experienced a surge in demand on the local emergency and urgent care system. Our system on the whole has coped with this increased demand, but it is still under considerable pressure and we expect this to continue throughout the coming week.

However the evidence from hospital A&E Departments, including those at the BRI, Southmead Hospital and Weston General Hospital is that many people are still continuing to use A&E unnecessarily.

We all want the best care for ourselves and our families but if you are feeling under the weather, attending A&E may not be the answer. I would urge people to seek out advice from their pharmacist first, contact their GP or ring 111.

– Dr Peter Goyder

What does Black Alert mean?

So hospitals have announced that they're on 'black alert' - but what does this actually mean?

This is the highest level of alert, which usually means bed capacity has been reached and that patients arriving at A&E will have to be taken to another hospital. Sometimes routine operations will be cancelled to free up bed space.

NHS England classifies a black alert as a "serious incident". It means the system is under severe pressure and is unable to deliver certain actions and comprehensive emergency care.

It also means there is potential for emergency care and safety to be compromised. Decisive action must be taken to restore the hospital's capacity and ensure patient safety.

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