FEARS have been raised the county’s hospitals are facing another winter which could push emergency departments to breaking point.
Stewart Messer, chief operating officer at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, warned emergency admissions for the first three weeks of October were already higher than last winter, which brought the system to the brink of meltdown with hundreds of operations cancelled, beds taken up by patients unable to be discharged and people queueing to on trolleys in corridors waiting to be seen.
Commissioners across the county have put in a number of schemes to treat more people in their own home or the community to ease the pressure this winter and the Trust is also using £1 million from the Government to buy private nursing home beds to discharge people who no longer need hospital care.
But although emergency admissions are down four per cent on last year, they are still 7.3 per cent higher than 2011/12, while continued delays in social care and the availability of community beds mean on average 60 people are on the ‘ready to go list’ tying up three wards’ worth of beds which could be used for patients needing operations.
“In the first three weeks [of October] we have seen higher than expected numbers of admissions and higher than 2012/13 which we all know was an extremely challenging winter,” he told a board meeting.
“We have had 250 more admissions in October than we expected in plan. It’s equivalent to 35 beds’ worth of pressure on us in October.
“That causes significant operational issues about maintaining our elective activity and around that we are seeking more reassurance from commissioners about when can we expect their plans to start to kick-in and we start to see the benefit.”
Collectively commissioners have invested over £1 million in continuing 13 schemes which last year cut A&E attendances by 1,447 people and reduced unplanned hospital admissions by 1,345 patients.