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Cornwall's main hospital declares 'black alert'

Cornwall's main hospital declares 'black alert'

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 12:37pm 20th November 2019. (Updated at 1:34pm 20th November 2019)

A spike in emergencies has put Cornwall's main hospital on 'black alert'.

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust has declared it us operating at Opel 4 status - previously known as black alert.

It follows a rise in patients over the weekend and the start of the week.

Hospital bosses say staff have been working tirelessly to make sure people are treated as quickly as possible.

Doctors say the colder weather will exacerbate long term conditions, particularly for those with respiratory problems.  

Patients are being urged to choose the right services, such as minor injury units, GPs and the NHS 111 line.

"We have seen a spike in emergencies over the weekend and the start of this week.  

"Together with health and care services partners our staff have been working tirelessly to make sure people are treated and return home, or are admitted, as quickly as possible and we are seeing an improvement in the situation.

"Local people can help us, help them by using the most appropriate place for the care and support they need.  

"We know that the colder weather will exacerbate long term conditions, particularly for those with respiratory problems.  

"It's important to take prescribed medicines and to seek help early from a GP, or by calling 111, if symptoms are getting worse, as that could avoid admission to hospital later on.

"Generally we'd ask people to make use of the pharmacies, the brilliant network of minor injury units around the county and the 24 hour urgent treatment centre at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance.  

"Opening times and live waiting times are on our website www.royalcornwall.nhs.uk together with information on how to cope at home with the bugs and minor illnesses we see at this time of year."

Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust

What is the advice if you or your family becomes ill?

Self-care: Having a few basic items in your medicine cabinet can save you time and effort should you become ill. Items should include paracetamol, a bandage, sticking plasters, antiseptic cream, and indigestion tablets. If troublesome symptoms persist or worsen see your GP or call 111 if your GP surgery is closed.

Repeat medication: If you or someone you care for requires repeat medication, make sure you have ordered and collected any prescriptions before they run out. Contact your GP practice as soon as possible to organise prescriptions.

Visit your local pharmacist: You can speak to your pharmacist for confidential expert advice and over-the-counter treatments for a wide range of common illnesses and complaints, such as stomach upsets, allergies, water infections, sticky eyes, cuts, nappy rash, skin conditions and coughs and colds. They can also arrange an urgent supply of any prescribed medicines that run out, so you don't have to use the out of hours' service or the emergency department. This service is also available for anyone who's on holiday or visiting family. You can get details of which pharmacies are open by visiting the NHS Kernow website.

NHS 111: If you urgently need to see a GP when your surgery is closed and it cannot wait until it re-opens, call NHS 111. The NHS 111 service can put you in contact with the GP out-of-hours service, which can arrange for you to see a healthcare professional in the evening and at the weekend.
It's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is free to call from landlines and mobile phones. It includes a full range of health services, including doctors, community nurses, emergency dental care and late opening chemists. NHS 111 is also online here.

Minor injury unit: If your injury is not serious you can get help from a minor injuries unit (MIU) rather than go to the emergency department. This will allow emergency department staff to concentrate on people with serious and life-threatening conditions. You will be seen by an experienced nurse, without an appointment. X-ray is available at some locations. Access waiting times by visiting kernowccg.nhs.uk/get-info/choose-well

Minor injury units are based at:

  • Bodmin Community Hospital
  • Camborne Redruth Community Hospital
  • Falmouth Community Hospital
  • Launceston Community Hospital
  • Liskeard Community Hospital
  • Newquay Community Hospital
  • St Austell Community Hospital
  • St Mary's Community Hospital
  • Stratton Community Hospital, Bude.

Urgent treatment centres: The urgent treatment centres at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance, and Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro is open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year for anyone needing urgent medical care for injuries and conditions such as fractures, deep cuts, non-life threatening head injuries and minor falls. You will be seen by a doctor from 9am to 10pm and an experienced nurse overnight. X-ray is available from 8am to 11pm.

Emergency department or 999: Only use the emergency department or the 999 ambulance service for life threatening and emergency conditions such as heart attack, stroke, if someone is unconscious, has severe loss of blood, or breathing difficulties. If a family member is experiencing chest pain or has become unconscious call 999 immediately.

Online waiting time service: If you need to visit the emergency department, a minor injury unit or urgent care centre, you can see how long you may have to wait by using the online waiting time service, which shows the longest wait, how many people are waiting to be seen and how many people are in the department. It also includes opening times and x-ray availability. Visit the NHS Kernow website for more information.

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