The strain on hospital services in South Tyneside has been laid bare – after it was revealed bed occupancy rates had risen well above the recommended safe limit.
Figures released by NHS England show that, for the period from Boxing Day to New Year’s Eve, at least 90% of hospital beds in South Tyneside were taken.
The underlying problem has now developed into a full-blown crisisGlenn Turp
That is above the previously recommended safe limit of 85%, demonstrating the winter pressures services are under.
In the South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust area, 96.7% of hospital beds were occupied on New Year’s Eve, with high figures also including Boxing Day (94.8%) and December 27 (95.2%).
Ken Bremner, chief executive of City Hospitals Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trusts, said: “During December we have seen a rise in the number of people coming into our emergency departments in both South Tyneside and Sunderland, many of whom have been very unwell and required hospital admission. This is something we always actively plan for to make sure we are able to cope well with the influx of very poorly patients that we expect to see at this time of the year and who need to stay in hospital.”
The Royal College of Nursing claims the situation is now a ‘full-blown crisis’.
Glenn Turp, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing in the northern region, said: “Nursing staff are struggling to hold the NHS together and the situation continues to get worse with increasing demand from an ageing population and a severe nursing recruitment and retention problem. The RCN has been warning of under-investment in nursing staff for years. That underlying problem has now developed into a full-blown crisis.”
Because of a rise of flu and norovirus cases, people with such symptoms are urged to stay away from hospitals.
There are additional GP appointments available, as well as advice at local pharmacies or by calling NHS 111.