A major NHS hospital trust had to turn patients away from its A&E units 13 times last week – including four times in one day – as the snow left it facing “extremely challenging” conditions.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was forced to divert emergency patients away from the A&Es at two of the hospitals it runs, the Worcestershire Royal in Worcester and Alexandra in Redditch.
The increased number of patients seeking care as the first cold snap of winter hit meant it had to declare an “A&E divert” four times on both 4 and 5 December, and a further five times last week.
Two patients died at the trust last winter, one reportedly after spending 35 hours on a trolley, days before the British Red Cross said the chaos in many hospitals constituted “a humanitarian crisis”.
Snow put the trust under such pressure that it issued a plea last Sunday for nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants who could safely get to either hospital to come in and help out. Some staff slept in the hospitals and others stayed well past the end of their shifts as part of a major operation to keep the hospitals open.
The unusually high number of diverts illustrates how the cold #weather has added to the already heavy pressure on hospitals, especially A&E units.