Royal Devon and Exeter hospital moves into the highest state of alert

The Royal Devon and Exeter (RD&E) Hospital has moved into the highest state of alert because of a shortage of beds, staff absence and growing demand on its services.

More than 400 of its staff were off work due to coronavirus at the beginning of the month.

The hospital is now under 'Opel 4' alert which means the hospital can no longer offer comprehensive care to its patients and patient safety is at risk.

What does OPEL 4 mean?

  • Four-hour performance is not being delivered and patients are being cared for in overcrowded and congested department(s).

  • Decisive action must be taken by the Local A&E Delivery Board to recover capacity and ensure patient safety.

  • Pressure in the local health and social care system continues and there is increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised.

Professor Adrian Harris from the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust said: "We're always very busy at this time of year but we're in the middle of a global pandemic. We've got two particular problems of our winter pressures; firstly we have COVID patients in the hospital and they're consuming our resources but most importantly we've got lots of staff off sick either with COVID or related to COVID - self isolating."

More than 10 per cent of staff at the hospital are unable to work which has led bosses there to appeal for those not working to come in and help support other staff.

Despite the staff shortage the hospital is not closed and is still welcoming patients. Professor Adrian Harris explains that patients will be contacted if they should not go to hospital.

Staff at the hospital hope to be out of Opel 4 alert in the next few days.

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