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Patients in Cornwall urged to take care during cold snap

Patients in Cornwall urged to take care during cold snap

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 7:02am 3rd February 2019. (Updated at 7:30am 3rd February 2019)

Cornwall's biggest hospital is urging people to look after themselves as the cold snap bites.

The Duchy, and much of the country, has been bombarded with weather warnings for snow and ice over the past week.

It has caused major problems on the A30 and over Bodmin Moor with heavy flurries over higher ground.

It comes as the Royal Cornwall Hospital faces the added winter pressures - but how well is it coping?

NHS England publishes weekly reports which reveal whether hospital trusts are struggling to manage during the colder months, based on key indicators.

This is how Royal Cornwall Hospitals' NHS Trust coped from January 21st to 27th:

Bed Occupancy:

General and acute wards at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals were 87.1% full on average, above the safe limit of 85% recommended by health experts.

The occupancy rate has remained mostly unchanged since the previous week.

British Medical Association guidelines state "to ensure safe patient care, occupancy should ideally not exceed 85%".

The BMA also raised concerns about the number of available beds needed to cope with winter demands.

On average, the Royal Cornwall Hospitals had 635 available beds each day, of which 553 were in use.

Of those, one were escalation beds - temporary beds set up in periods of intense pressure, often in corridors or day care centres.

According to NHS Improvement, a higher proportion of long-stay patients can impact the ability of hospitals to accommodate urgent admissions and manage bed capacity.

At the Royal Cornwall Hospitals, 229 patients had been in hospital for a week or more , taking up more than 40% of the occupied beds.

Of these, 79 patients had been in hospital for at least three weeks, making up 14% of all occupied beds.


A total of 693 patients were taken by ambulance to A&E during the week. That's a drop in emergency arrivals compared to the previous week, when 719 patients were brought by ambulance.

Just two patients waited more than 30 minutes before they could be transferred.

NHS Improvement guidance states that ambulance crews should hand patients over to A&E staff within 15 minutes of arrival.

Any delay in transferring patients leaves ambulances unable to respond to other emergencies, as well as risking their patients' safety.

The previous week, four patients waited more than 30 minutes to be transferred.


Norovirus, the winter vomiting bug, is highly contagious. Outbreaks spread rapidly through hospitals, causing staff to close beds to prevent infection spreading.

But at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals, no beds were closed due to norovirus outbreaks - both during the most recent week and over the previous one.

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