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Royal Cornwall Hospital declares 'Black Alert' over high demand

The Royal Cornwall Hospital has gone into its highest state of alert because of high demand on its services.

It's the first time this year the hospital has gone onto black alert, which means there aren't enough beds to cope with admissions.

At this stage it just applies to the hospital trust, not the wider health care system in Cornwall.

In response to this the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust has implemented its 'significant internal incident plan'.

We are in communication with our partner organisations and GPs to support patient discharge plans including the delivery of social care packages for patients ready to leave hospital.

– Andrew MacCallum, Chief Executive

The alert means extra staff may be brought in, and some non urgent operations could be cancelled.

A hospital spokesperson told ITV News it is difficult to know how long the black alert will be in place, but it's reviewing the situation every few hours.

THINK BEFORE VISITING A&E

In the meantime the RCHT is urging patients who don't need emergency care to use other services like GP's and pharmacies to help ease the pressure.

WHAT DOES BLACK ALERT 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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Doctors investigate if routine health scans will reduce heart attacks

Volunteers needed for heart study Credit: PA:Dominic Lipinski

Doctors from Plymouth are supporting a study to investigate whether routine heart scans for hospital patients with chest pains will help reduce heart attack rates.

Teams from Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust will work in collaboration with researchers from around the UK to test whether heart scans can better diagnose patients at risk of a heart attack and reduce the number of deaths from the condition.

To date there have been few studies in this area, and where there have been they have focused on low risk patients who would have been sent home anyway.

Ours is the first study to investigate cardiac CT in relation to all levels of risk in patients. The findings of our study will help to inform guidance on how best to implement cardiac CT. The prospect of it being available 'at the front door' is not unfeasible and could even become routine within the next year or two.

– Professor Carl Roobottom, Consultant Radiologist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

The team are recruiting 2,500 patients from emergency departments at 30 sites across the UK, including Edinburgh, Sheffield, and Plymouth.

Researchers have received £2 million from the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme to conduct a clinical trial of the technology.

Ambulance staff join national walk out over pay

Ambulance staff on the picket line outside the Exeter ambulance station Credit: ITV News

Health workers in the south west have been taking part in a four hour strike today.

Members of the GMB and Unison unions walked out at 7 o'clock this morning in an ongoing dispute over pay. It's the second wave of industrial action being taken by health workers. They took similar action last month.

Today's four-hour walk out will be followed by a work-to-rule which will last until the end of the month.

The workers are calling for a 1% pay rise, which the Government says it can't afford Credit: ITV News

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Health staff across the West Country walk out over pay

The picket line outside the Bristol Royal Infirmary Credit: ITV News

Thousands of health workers have walked out on strike, many for the first time in their lives, in protest at the Government's decision not to give them a recommended 1% pay rise.

Midwives, nurses, paramedics, ambulance staff, hospital porters and cleaners have mounted picket lines across the West Country. They are walking out for a total of four hours from 7am till 11am.

NHS Tribunal hears accusations of nepotism

Dr Paula Vasco-Knight Credit: ITV News West Country

A tribunal will continue to hear evidence today against the Chief Executive of the South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, who's accused of nepotism after employing her daughter's boyfriend as a manager.

Dr Paula Vasco-Knight, CBE, is NHS England's national lead on equality and diversity. The tribunal will hear from another whistleblower today.

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