Surrey hospitals have declared "critical incidents" as demand for care surges across the county due to illness this winter. With Covid-19 still at large, Step A, flu and stomach bugs being highly prevalent this winter, more and more people are finding themselves in need of medical assistance.
NHS trusts including Ashford and St Peter’s , Frimley Health , and Surrey and Sussex have all declared “critical incidents”.
Those who are in need of medical care are urged to fill out a form via the NHS 111 website, or to call 111. Patients can book an appointment with their GP, or visit a walk-in centre. For life-threatening illnesses and injury, call 999.
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Dr Charlotte Canniff, joint chief medical officer at Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership, said: "Due to the significant ongoing pressure on local NHS services with high rates of circulating Covid 19 and flu , a critical incident has been declared across health services across Surrey Heartlands.
“This allows us to take additional steps to maintain safe services for our patients and help us cope with the growing pressures. We continue to experience significant demand across all our health services and our clinical teams are working tirelessly to continue to provide safe care for patients.
“Citizens can help us by getting their flu and Covid jabs when offered, and using NHS111 including NHS111 online, pharmacies, urgent treatment centres and local GP services for less urgent issues, keeping our Emergency Departments and 999 services free for those with very serious and life-threatening conditions."
Read on to find out which NHS trusts and hospitals in Surrey have declared critical incidents.
Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
A statement read: “Due to the significant ongoing pressure on our services, alongside the need to act swiftly to ensure patients continue to receive safe, high quality care, we have declared a critical incident at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Our Emergency Department is extremely busy and we are strongly urging people to only attend if it’s a life-threatening situation or a serious injury.
“If you need medical help fast and you are not sure where to go, use NHS 111 online 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get assessed and directed to the right place for you.”
The hospitals affected include:
- Ashford Hospital
- St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey
NHS Frimley Health Foundation Trust
Frimley Health encompasses a handful of hospitals across Surrey and Berkshire. The NHS Frimley Health Trust has not declared a critical incident, however, it advised patients seeking medical help to: “Please only call 999 or access A&E in the event of a life-threatening emergency. Services across the area are under extreme pressure at present so other cases unfortunately face a very long wait for care.”
This includes the following hospitals:
- Farnham Hospital
- Fleet Hospital
- Frimley Park Hospital
- Heatherwood Hospital
- King Edward VII Hospital
- St Mark’s Hospital
- Wexham Park Hospital
Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
A critical incident was declared across Surrey and Sussex Trust, a statement and advice read: “Due to the significant ongoing pressure on local NHS services, alongside the need to act swiftly to ensure patients continue to receive safe, high quality care we have declared a critical incident across health services in Surrey Heartlands.
“We are seeing record numbers of people attending A&E, calling NHS111, accessing GP services and calling 999; ongoing challenges in discharging patients who are well enough to leave hospital to create capacity for patients coming in; and we are seeing an increase in staff sickness - all of which has led to longer waits than we would like for patients to receive the care they need.
“Because of these pressures, the local health and care system has taken the decision to escalate to a critical incident which allows us to be able to take additional steps to maintain safe services for our patients and help us cope with the growing pressures.
“Unfortunately, this does mean local organisations may need to reschedule some non-urgent operations, treatments and outpatient appointments to accommodate those patients with the most urgent clinical need. People should attend appointments unless they are contacted; cancer and our other most urgent operations continue to be prioritised.
“Our teams continue to work exceptionally hard; and we would like to reassure our patients and the public that despite the challenges faced and some changes to non-urgent appointments, essential services remain fully open for anyone who needs them so if you require urgent medical help, please continue to come forward.
“The public can help us manage these periods of demand by ensuring they are seeking help from the most appropriate health services and only attending A&E for serious accidents and emergencies. If you are unwell, see NHS 111 online for 24/7 advice about the most appropriate care for your needs or call NHS 111, although phone lines remain very busy.”
- East Surrey Hospital
- Caterham Dene Hospital
Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trusts
The Epsom and St Helier has not issued a critical incident, however, it issued a warning to patients and gave advice to those seeking help. The statement read: “Our emergency departments (EDs) and hospitals are under extreme pressure right now – and we expect them to continue to be very busy over the coming months.
“We absolutely don’t want our patients to be waiting for long periods of time and our teams are working hard to ensure people coming to ED are seen as quickly as possible. But right now – like all parts of the NHS – we are not always able to provide the level of care we would like, and we are very sorry this is the case.
“There are things we are doing to try to ease pressures – such as deploying trained staff from non-patient facing roles, supporting elderly and frail people in their homes to avoid ED admissions, introducing a ‘hospital at home’ and remote monitoring service, opening additional beds up on wards, and freeing up beds by working to discharge people as soon as they are medically fit.
“We are also prioritising patients who are most in need of clinical care, which means those who are the sickest or most seriously injured will be seen more quickly.
“It’s still really important you continue to come forward for the care you need. If it’s an emergency or life-threatening, then please dial 999 or go to an emergency department as normal.
“However, we need your help, too. Our emergency departments aren’t always the most appropriate place for people who need medical attention, and if this is the case we may direct you to an alternative – such as pharmacy, GP, or urgent treatment centre – to free up space for those who most need it.
“Using the most appropriate service means you may be seen more quickly and this allows our hospitals to prioritise the sickest patients.
“If it’s urgent medical help you need, please use NHS 111 online first. This is a 24/7 service that can direct you to the most appropriate care.
“Your local pharmacy can also provide advice on minor health concerns from skin rashes, to earaches and flu. Many pharmacies open late and no appointment is needed.
“You should contact your GP surgery for appointments about illnesses or injuries that won’t go away. Many GPs offer an out-of-hours service, and these appointments can often be booked via NHS 111 online. Your GP surgery will be able to advise.
“Please take all the steps you can to keep yourself and others well this winter. Vaccines offer the best protection against flu and Covid – find out how to book here . Remember, also, to wash your hands regularly, to catch coughs and sneezes in tissues, to wrap up warm in the colder weather, and to check in on vulnerable friends, family, and neighbours.
“Finally, do not visit patients in our hospitals if you have an illness – and when you do come to our hospitals, please wear a mask in clinical areas, as directed.
“Thank you for supporting our hospitals and staff this winter.”
- Epsom Hospital
- St Helier
- Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children
- The Malvern Centre
Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust
A critical incident was declared for the Royal Surrey Hospitals, a statement said: "Due to the significant ongoing pressure on our services, alongside the need to act swiftly to ensure patients continue to receive safe, high-quality care, we have declared a critical incident at Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust.
"Our Emergency Department is extremely busy and we are strongly urging people to only attend if it’s a life-threatening situation or a serious injury.
"If you need medical help fast and you are not sure where to go, use NHS 111 online 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get assessed and directed to the right place for you. "
- Royal Surrey County Hospital
- St Luke's Cancer Centre
- Haslemere Community Hospital
- Milford Community Hospital
- Cranleigh Village Hospital
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