St George’s Hospital in south London declares ‘critical incident’ due to bed shortages

A stock photo of a hospital ward (PA) (PA Wire)

A stock photo of a hospital ward (PA) (PA Wire)

A major south London NHS trust has declared a critical incident due to patient flows.

St George’s University Hospitals said on Thursday a critical incident was declared due to “significant pressure on flow within our hospital, and need to discharge a number of patients”, according to an internal memo.

The hospital is a major trauma center and one of the largest acute treatment NHS trusts in the country, but said it now needed to improve the “discharge of patients across all ward areas”.

A spokesperson for the trust confirmed to the Evening Standard that a critical has been declared.

While not officially declaring a critical incident on its site, the trust did say it is under “extreme pressure” earlier on Thursday.

Due to this, the trust said it is setting out measures to try ease pressure across its wards.

The measures were: “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.”

The trust said it is also prioritizing patients who are in most need of critical care but advised that some patients may require alternative treatment from a GP, urgent treatment centre, or a pharmacy rather than the A&E department.

This comes after Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Trust said its Edward ward at St Thomas’ hospital would open for “critical care surge capacity” on Thursday.

A leaked email obtained by The Sunday Times said that beds in the surge ward would be staffed by a full critical care team.

Separately, analysis of NHS figures by the Evening Standard found that paramedic crews in the capital lost the equivalent of 3.5 months as a result of handover delays in the week up to December 25, a rise of more than 12 per cent compared with a month earlier .

And more than 7,150 Londoners waited more than 12 hours to be admitted to A&E in November alone, an increase of 46 per cent in three months.

Due to the pressures on the NHS, Rishi Sunak has been urged to recall Parliament “immediately” to discuss the crisis.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) said: “The NHS is broken. Patients are dying and staff are suffering moral injury from the appalling conditions.

“We are desperately in need of meaningful action from our leaders and this cannot wait.”

MPs are due to return from the festive break on January 9.

Separately, the Prime Minister said this week that he will tackle NHS waiting times and make sure the public gets the treatment they require.

In his first major speech of 2023, Mr Sunak said the issues facing A&E and strikes were “at the forefront of everyone’s minds”.

“I know there are challenges in A&E – people are understandably anxious when they see ambulances queuing outside hospitals,” he said.

“You should know we’re taking urgent action: increasing bed capacity by 7,000 more hospital beds and more people cared for at home; providing new funding to discharge people into social care and the community, freeing up beds and the NHS are working urgently on further plans for A&E and ambulances.”

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