Peterborough City Hospital has today (6 January) declared an “internal major incident” as medical staff struggle to cope with soaring patient numbers.
The 611-bed Bretton-based hospital currently does not have any vacant beds yet has at least 19 patients in its Emergency Department who need medical care that only the hospital can provide.
A spokeswoman said: “We have declared an internal major incident because of the high level of illness in the community.
“Our emergency department is very busy at the moment.”
When a hospital declares a major incident or internal incident, it is a sign that things have got exceptionally busy and special measures are need to cope.
The declaration allows hospitals to call in extra staff to help them cope. The city hospital says it has been redeploying some staff to help out in the Emergency Department where feasible.
The spokeswoman said: “We have 19 people in the Emergency Department who need a hospital bed but we don’t have any vacant beds on the wards.
“But we do have 40 patients in hospital beds who are medically fit but who need other care in the community but we do not have anywhere to send them.
“By declaring a major incident we are appealing for help from our health partners in the community, such as Cambridgeshire Community Services Trust, Peterborough City Council, local GPs and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group.”
She said that while the search for beds went on space would be created in other areas of the hospital to ensure patients were not left on trolleys in corridors.
The surge in patient numbers has also meant that some pre-planned operations have been cancelled.
But the spokeswoman added: “All emergency operations and cancer surgery is going ahead.”
Neil Doverty, chief operating officer at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The trust declared an internal major incident on Monday morning following a weekend of greater levels of emergency admissions and fewer patients being discharged, due to either being medically unfit or awaiting further care arrangements to be put into place in the community across all counties we serve.
“When we declare an Internal Major Incident this triggers additional internal hospital actions as we prioritise care for our emergency patients.
“This includes taking an hourly assessment of the situation as it develops and addressing issues as they arise. All staff pull together to ensure patients are continuing to receive good quality care and are given clear information on the reasons for any delays to them getting to a bed on a ward.
“At times such as this the trust is reliant upon support by all our external healthcare partners locally, such as GP’s, community services and health and social care partners.
“Sadly we have had to cancel some planned operations in order to ensure beds are prioritised for emergency patients.
“We cancelled nine operations on Monday and a further eight today. All day cases, cancer surgery and urgent and emergency operations are still taking place.
“I would like to apologise to those patients who have had their operations cancelled as we appreciate it causes them great inconvenience. We will be rescheduling these operations as a priority in the coming weeks.
“I would like to thank our staff for continuing to go the extra mile in ensuring we look after our patients to the same standards as ever despite the pressures on our hospital.
“It is down to their commitment and efforts that we have been able to keep the situation from escalating further.”
The announcement of the crisis at the city hospital comes as new figures show that the NHS in England has missed its four-hour A&E waiting time target with performance dropping to its lowest level for a decade.
The statistics show that from October to December 92.6 per cent of patients nationally were seen in four hours - below the 95 per cent target.