Inside Bristol's main hospital as health service at highest alert level

  • Watch Max Walsh's report

Behind the doors of our hospitals there is a new battle unfolding. A logisitcal operation to get recovering patients home quickly  - and safely - so more beds can be made available for those who need them.

Today ITV News reporter Max Walsh went inside the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) to talk to staff and patients about the pressures the health service is facing.

It comes as health and care leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire issue a fresh call to the public as continuing Covid-19 hospitalisations and ongoing workforce challenges place incredible pressure on services.

Staff at the BRI

The local health and care system is now in its highest state of alert (known as Opel 4), reflecting the level of pressure being felt across NHS hospitals, GP practices, community and mental health services and social care.

Local leaders are urging people to stay away from busy emergency departments and minor injuries units unless absolutely necessary, with additional exceptional steps being taken to manage the situation.

The team at the BRI are working hard to get patients home as soon as is possibly safe to try and free up much needed beds.

Steve Cutler, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Trust said: "Everything is stretched but we are safe - we can still have people come in, we can still take people in through the front door and we can still discharge people, but we are obviously under a lot of pressure."

Steve Cutler from the BRI

Nick Spree has been in hospital for six days now after an operation on his heart.

He is about to be discharged but that has only be made possible by having support at home.

He said: "When you start to feel better thats when you want to get home and obviously being at home is where the second part of that healing process starts."

Nick Spree, a patient at the BRI

There are also huge issues facing the ambulance service - figures released for October show South West has one of the slowest ambulance response times in the country and some of slowest since records began in 2017.

For a category one call out, the most serious response needed to a life-threatening health issue like a heart attack, the average response time for England is nine minutes and 20 seconds, but the South West's average is almost 12 minutes.

For a category two call out, including stroke or chest pain, the England average response was 54 minutes, whereas the South West was one hour and 24 minutes - which was the longest response time in England.

A spokesperson for the service said: "We are losing many more hours compared with recent years which causes our ambulances to queue outside hospitals and unable to respond to other patients and has an inevitable impact on the service we can provide.

"It is an absolute priority for us and our NHS partners to reduce these delays, so we can be there for our patients, while prioritising those who are most seriously injured and ill."

The ambulance service reminded people to consider 111, GPs or pharmacies if their condition is not life threatening.