Gloucestershire hospitals struggling to cope with emergency admissions
HOSPITAL staff have been struggling to cope with a massive increase in the number of patients flooding through their doors.
In the last three weeks, wards at Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal hospitals have been filled to overflowing.
Bosses at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust have now admitted they cannot remember a time when the admission figures were so high. Emergency admissions were nine per cent higher than anticipated they said, and the influx of patients was putting a strain on resources, they said.
They admitted that, while they were still hitting waiting time targets in the Accident and Emergency departments, they had been the busiest in the trust's history during the previous month.
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Maggie Arnold, programme director for emergency care for the hospitals trust, admitted the problem had pushed the two hospitals to their limit.
She said: "During October we have seen a significant increase in referrals from GPs and ambulance arrivals.
"Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) reported that on Wednesday they were busier than on New Year's Eve.
"Bed capacity has been an issue at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, which has affected our performance." At Cheltenham General Hospital, there were 25,980 admissions to Cheltenham General Hospital from April to September this year.
This is a 1.4 per cent increase from 25,619 for the same period last year.
At Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, the attendances from April to September rose from 34,071 to 35,349.
Mystery surrounds the reason for the sudden increase.
Some GPs are putting it down to a change in the weather which might be triggering allergies.
Dr Frank Harsent, chief executive, admitted he could not remember any time in the past when the figures for patients had been so high.
He said: "We have seen some remarkable days this month.
"On Monday, October 8, we saw levels which we have not got close to at any other time in the trust's history.
"The numbers have been so high that we have almost needed to fill an additional ward on some days."
He added that despite extra pressure, they were coping with higher demand and were still above the target for waiting times.
His words of reassurance came, however, as GWAS said many of their patients were being kept in ambulances for more than 20 minutes rather than being transferred immediately on their arrival.