RUH says 'bear with us' as patient demand soars
Beleaguered staff at the Royal United Hospital say they are experiencing unprecedented demand for its services.
The hospital has seen an increase in emergency patients compared to the average figure for the past four years in each of the last four months.
Last month, there was a three per cent rise in emergency cases compared to the four-year average, to 5,677 people, while the increase was eight per cent in December.
Its managers are calling for people to make maximum use of minor injuries units in surrounding towns, along with the city’s walk-in centre and NHS Direct.
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Its interim chief operating officer Francesca Thompson said: “There has been an unprecedented demand on our services, even busier than normal for this time of year, with no sign of let-up. The extra influx of patients is putting the hospital under extreme pressure, but our staff have responded magnificently and are working flat out to help keep the hospital running.
“The hospital’s discharge arrangements are being reviewed on an hourly basis and we are also liaising closely with primary care trusts to effect timely discharge arrangements for patients and identify appropriate beds in the community.”
Mrs Thompson said the arrival of patients in the emergency department with a minor injury diverted staff’s attention from people with more serious injuries who need to be admitted.
She added: “Thanks to the magnificent efforts of our staff, we can reassure the public that the RUH will continue to provide care for those who need it. I would also like to pay tribute to my colleagues in the primary care trusts and social services who are also under extreme pressure and are working closely with us to make best use of our services and other facilities across the community.”
The seasonal diarrhoea and vomiting bug is still said to be “widespread in the community.”
Visitors, who have recovered are being asked not to come into the hospital to visit relatives and friends for 72 hours after symptoms have cleared so that they do not put other patients at risk and cause bed closures.