BASILDON Hospital and Southend Hospital have been put on black alert after a surge of patients visiting the emergency department and more bed space taken up.
Southend’s trust has made the decision to cancel some elective operations and outpatient clinics; this does not affect emergency or cancer related surgery. Patients will be notified in person should their surgery or appointment be postponed and should continue to attend their appointments as arranged unless contacted by the hospital.
Echoing the state of hospitals across the region, Southend Hospital suffered high levels of emergency incidents since Boxing Day, with the highest ever number of ambulance call outs of 112 on New Year’s Day.
To assist Southend Hospital in dealing with the situation, the trust would like to remind members of the public to only visit the accident and emergency department if they are seriously unwell or critically injured.
Choking, chest pain, blacking out, blood loss and fractures are all considered emergencies, and those with symptoms like this should not hesitate to visit their local A&E department.
Sue Hardy, chief executive at Southend University Hospital, said: “The hospital is currently extremely busy dealing both with the high number of patients coming through our doors and the number of very ill patients who need to be admitted to hospital.
“The emergency department is very busy and we have to warn patients that those attending with ‘non-urgent’ conditions will wait much longer than usual as patients are prioritised according to how unwell they are.
“We would like to remind anyone who is unsure of the best course of action to always ring NHS 111 for health advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or to speak with your GP or pharmacist.”
Jon Findlay, chief operating officer at Southend University Hospital, said: “We are currently on black alert, our highest escalation status, and remain very busy. We’ve been on red alert since Boxing Day but went into black on Sunday, 3 January.
“We had anticipated it was going to be very busy and had reduced elective activity accordingly.
“However, as is the picture across the region, we remain under pressure due to high levels of emergency attendances and on New Year’s Day we received 112 ambulance attendances, the highest ever.”
A spokesperson for Basildon Hospital said: “We are currently on black alert. Black alert is our hospital’s most severe internal status level (on the scale of green, amber, red and black) and means we have more demand coming through A&E than beds available in the system.
“When this occurs, non-urgent meetings are cancelled and an incident room with a gold, silver and bronze management structure is put in place to safely manage admissions, discharges and staffing levels.
“We are well versed in responding to peaks in demand and our dedicated staff rise to the challenge, sometimes working extra hours, sometimes taking on different roles.
“Working with other healthcare providers in the area, we have put a number of measures in place to help us to respond to high levels of demand this winter.”