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Royal Cornwall Hospital on Black Alert

Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust is on Black Alert Credit: PA

Royal Cornwall Hospital is on Black Alert as high demand puts local health and social care system under major pressure.

Local Accident and Emergency remains extremely busy with large numbers of very sick, frail and elderly patients needing urgent care and patient flow remains slow through the system. This is likely to continue in the coming weeks.

Local people are encouraged to ‘do their bit’ to reduce pressure on the local system by choosing the most appropriate service for their needs and avoiding A&E for everything except genuine, life-threatening emergencies.

The local health and social care system remains under significant and concerted pressure. We are coping with this pressure, but are issuing a ‘call to action’ asking people to think hard about whether they can self-care and treat the symptoms themselves or to consider the most appropriate service for their need.

The local system is extremely busy and we can all play our part in minimising the impact of this. Every correct decision made by people about self-care or where to be seen helps to free up the system to prioritise the most serious cases quickly and improve patient flow.

Pitching up at A&E inappropriately puts a huge and unnecessary strain on the local NHS. It is not a place for ‘conditions’ like broken finger nails, sore throats, hangovers or minor cuts and bruises which have been seen there in the past.

A&E is for serious and life-threatening conditions like chest pain, stroke, severe abdominal pain, severe bleeding or breathing difficulties, major broken bones and serious head injuries. In a life threatening situation, don’t hesitate – call 999 or attend A&E. Our focus is to prioritise the safe delivery of emergency care to those who are most in need.

– Dr Iain Chorlton, Chairman of NHS Kernow

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.

Royal Cornwall Hospital back on Black Alert

Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro. Credit: ITV West Country

The Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro is back on black alert status - for the third time this year.

Patients are being urged to use alternative services and avoid A & E unless they need urgent care. Family and friends collecting patients are being asked to do so as quickly as possible to free up more beds.

A black alert was also declared on the 8th and 22nd of January.

Andrew MacCallum, Chief Executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Trust says there have been delays in transfer of care.

We have seen significant demand on our hospitals in the past 24 hours with high numbers of emergency patient admissions and delayed transfers of care.

We are currently on a black bed status and have asked for additional support from our partner organisations and GPs to accelerate patient discharges, including the delivery of social care packages for patients ready to leave hospital.

– Andrew MacCallum

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.

More: What service do I need?

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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.

Health watchdog calls for urgent improvements at RCH

The inspectors found inadequate staffing at the Emergency Department Credit: ITV News

Managers of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust have been ordered to make urgent improvements to protect the safety of patients.

The Care Quality Commission found staffing levels inadequate at times in its emergency department during an inspection in June.

Surgery was rated good, but inspectors also found wards full with patients waiting for support systems to be arranged.

The hospital says is is already making improvements.

We have to accept the findings. They came at a time when we had particular issues with flow out of the department and they're right, that's not a great mix, having too many patients in the department and not enough staff can potentially raise safety concerns.

That was the key finding that we were reflecting on here in the Emergency Department. We're now moving to have 14 nurses on the day and 11 at night which is a significant change from a few years ago when it was 12 and 9.

– Dr Andy Virr, Consultant, Emergency Department
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