'Our hospitals are full': region's NHS struggles under winter pressure already

Some hospitals in our region say they are already full to capacity due to rising number of Covid patients and winter pressures on the NHS.

Hull Teaching Hospitals has unveiled new £1m contingency plans to help deal with the rise in demand over the winter months.

It is bringing in extra staff, extending working hours at hospital labs to increase testing capacity and opening a new ward to deal with the pressure.

Michelle Cady, Director of Strategy and Planning at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, says hospitals in the city are full

She said: "We are very busy at the moment. We're really really busy with urgent and emergency care and we've seen quite a lot of people who are very unwell and needing to stay in hospital a bit longer with us as well. That intensifies the capacity pressure we have.

"We're seeing a lot of demand through our emergency department and we've also got fairly significant backlogs as well from the pandemic when we didn't do very much routine work.

"We have quite a few patients who are in hospital because of Covid illness as well. Unfortunately that is till with us. So a very very busy picture - our hospitals are full."

Last week stats showed North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust was the worst in England again for A&E waiting times.

Just under 53% of people were seen within four hours of arriving emergency departments last month.

The trust says it is seeing more people at A&E and bed capacity is "challenge."

Elsewhere, a spike in covid cases in North East Lincolnshire has prompted the area's Director of Public Health warn that there's a fifty fifty chance that compulsory mask wearing and working from home may return.

The Covid infection rate is higher than the average for the rest of England and officials say the way they're going - the area can expect to have one of the highest rates in the country by the end of this week.

Director of Public Health Geoff Barnes says the government could put in more restrictions:

He said: "If they do get much worse over the next couple of months, then all bets are off really in terms of what government might impose. Plan B will definitely be the first intervention but if that didn't seem to make an impact then maybe potentially you could end up in a full lockdown, but that would only be imposed right across England I think."

Meanwhile our region's ambulance trusts have raised concerns about the number of hours they are spending tied up at hospitals.

In a report this month, the Chief Executive of East Midlands Ambulance Service - which covers Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire - said they were experiencing 'significant delays' in handing over patients.

Their ambulances spent almost six and a half thousand hours waiting at hospitals back in June. By September that had reached over 11,000 and the trust says the situation has been "deteriorating significantly."