Health bosses in Peterborough are drawing up action plans to ensure services are not swamped by a surge in patients during the four day Easter holidays.
Officials from Peterborough City Hospital, GPs, mental health services and other groups have been meeting weekly to ensure they can cope in the face of a surge in patient numbers.
For the Easter holiday we’re building on the plans that we have used previously for bank holiday weekends.Sarah Shuttleworth
It comes after NHS England sent out letters to hospital trusts nationwide demanding they free up beds in the next two weeks to prevent an Easter bank holiday crisis in the NHS.
GP surgeries have also been ordered to open on Easter Saturday to help take the strain from over-stretched A&E departments.
Fear have been voiced that with the Easter weekend book ended by bank holidays, A&E departments could be swamped with patients at a time when GPs surgeries are likely to be shut and when care homes rarely take in new admissions,
In January, the Bretton-based hospital had to declare a major incident because the high level of illness in the community meant more people were arriving at its emergency department.
It was combined with a lack of community facilities for patients who were not ill enough to stay in hospital but who still needed some form of care.
It meant there were no available beds at the 611-bed hospital.
A spokeswoman for Peterborough City Hospital said: “We have received the letter from NHS England and it is an issue that we are looking at.
She said: “The county has a systems resilience group, which meets every week and is made up of representatives from all of the health services to try and tackle this very problem.
She added: “But it is difficult. We can’t just empty hospital beds if there is nowhere else to send the patient or if a patient is simply not well enough to leave.
“It is very much an issue for the all health providers working together.
“However, while we can’t predict when there will be a peak in patient numbers we’ve had plenty of experiences of these types of scenarios and we have some idea of what it take to deal with the matter.”
Sarah Shuttlewood, director of performance and delivery at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Urgent care pressures continue. We’re working closely with all healthcare partners across urgent, community and social care to ensure that patient care remains safe, effective and of a high quality throughout.
“For the Easter holiday we’re building on the plans that we have used previously for bank holiday weekends.
“We’ve reviewed the increase in attendances over winter and are looking at increasing staffing levels across all aspects of urgent care whether that’s community services, call centre staff at NHS 111, Out of Hours GP service and staff within A&E departments.
“We are also looking at increasing the number of GP surgeries that will be open on Easter Saturday.
“NHS services need to be supported and prepared to cope with the possibility of increased demand over Easter, but it remains key that the public consider where they go when they are feeling unwell and only use A&E or 999 when they are seriously unwell or have a life-threatening condition.”
Pharmacists can help with a range of common conditions and minor injuries and many are open until late and at weekends.
Peterborough Minor Illness and Injury Unit (MIIU) can help with things like x-rays, wound stitching, bites, minor burns and scalds and is open from 8.00am to 8.00pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Anyone unsure of where to go or who needs medical help fast but it’s not an emergency, can call NHS 111, which is a free 24-hour service and can quickly direct callers to the right service.
For more information on services available and details on pharmacies that will be open over the Bank Holiday weekend, visit www.choosewellpeterborough.nhs.uk or call NHS 111.