Health bosses in Derbyshire are alerting patients to growing pressures on NHS services, as the multiple impacts of the pandemic, winter pressures and continued service restoration converge.
Hospitals in Derbyshire have seen a surge in patients being admitted with the effects of Covid-19. Commenting on this, Dr Steve Lloyd, Executive Medical Director at NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“Whilst there is a clear message that the NHS remains open for business, patients are being asked to use NHS services wisely, to ensure they are following guidance and that they are protecting themselves and those around them. This includes washing hands regularly, staying socially distanced, wearing a face covering where that is required, particularly at NHS sites, following local tier restrictions as they are put in place and getting a flu jab.”
Commenting on the rapid increase in infection rates Angie Smithson, Chief Executive at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, said:
“We are very concerned about the rising prevalence of Covid-19 in our communities, which will inevitably lead to a rise in admissions at our hospitals. There is no doubt that the situation in our hospitals is becoming more serious and with rising rates of COVID-19 our hospitals are starting to struggle.
“Right now we are seeing a continued increase in the number of patients with Covid-19 who require hospital treatment, including intensive care. This is affecting our ability to continue to conduct some non-urgent operations. We have to allocate extra beds in our hospital to look after patients who are acutely unwell - who need to be oxygenated or ventilated. Inevitably this means our capacity for elective surgery is less than it would ordinarily be.”
Emergency departments have also seen a rise in patient numbers. With social distancing in place in waiting areas, the number of patients that can safely be seen in the department is lower than in previous years.
Gavin Boyle, Chief Executive at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton, said:
“Going to the right place for treatment has never been more important. Where patients have serious or life threatening injuries or illness then they are urged to continue to call 999 or visit the emergency department, but patients who have less serious conditions are being asked to visit NHS 111 online or call NHS 111 for advice on the best place to go for care.
“This will mean emergency departments are able to treat the sickest patients more quickly and safely, as well as meaning that less serious patients will get faster treatment in other services. NHS 111 can book appointment slots for patients at urgent treatment centres (formerly known in Derbyshire as minor injury units or urgent care centres) and emergency departments. Visiting NHS 111 online or calling NHS 111 in advance of seeking treatment for urgent or emergency care, unless it is for a life threatening condition, is really important.”
There remains a clear message for patients to continue to use the NHS where they have concerns about their health. Pharmacists can provide a wide range of healthcare advice and treatments and GPs are open for business with telephone, video and face to face appointments all available. Anyone concerned about potential cancer symptoms should not hesitate to speak with their GP at the earliest opportunity.