Staff isolation, hot weather and Covid rates put Bristol hospitals under pressure

Bristol Royal Infirmary
Waiting times at Bristol Royal Infirmary's Emergency Department have been unusually long. Credit: ITV News

A combination of staff shortages, hot weather and rising rates of Covid-19 continue to put increasing pressure on Bristol's hospitals.

Waiting times at Bristol Royal Infirmary's (BRI's) Emergency Department have been unusually long and breaching the NHS target of four hours.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for healthcare, says there is increased pressure on local services.

One of the CCG's lead doctors, Dr Geeta Iyer, told ITV News West Country: "We are all seeing increased pressure and increased activity. It hasn't been like this in previous years. There are a number of factors playing into that.

"One is because there are rising levels of Covid in the community, so we are obviously looking after those patients. We have to still adhere to social distancing. Wearing masks means we can't reach the output that we have in previous years.

"Also, there's a high number of staff still isolating, so we do have reduced capacity on the ground to see patients as well."

Southmead Hospital has confirmed it will need to cancel some non-urgent surgery.

Great Western Hospital in Swindon is also under pressure and closed its Urgent Treatment Centre on Thursday 22 July. The hospital has asked people to only attend A&E in an emergency.

Swindon's Great Weston Hospital closed its Urgent Treatment Centre on 22 July.

The centre will be closed from 9pm each night to 7am each morning until 29 July. It is as a result of more staff needing to isolate.

A growing number of patients attending the hospital with heat-related illnesses has also put pressure on services.

Dr Iyer said people who would not normally go to A&E are also attending.

"People are finding that after a year of lockdowns, they may well have stored a few different issues up. Because there are some waits for routine appointments, we're finding they would like to get quick answers and are going to Emergency Departments to get that reassurance," Dr Iyer added.

"When you've got a large number of people in any one setting, it's really hard to find out exactly who needs your care at that point in time. So we are have to talk to a huge number of people just to find out who the right person is to direct our attention to."