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Patients 'put in hotels' after 'black alert' at Treliske

Patients 'put in hotels' after 'black alert' at Treliske

Published by Emma Carton at 7:47am 17th January 2020. (Updated at 8:21am 17th January 2020)

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Richard Whitehouse

Hospital bosses provisionally booked hotel rooms to cope with pressures placed on Royal Cornwall Hospital over the new year.

Details of the "extraordinary action" were revealed in a briefing note provided for Cornwall councillors by RCHT chief executive Kate Shields.

The note was prepared for the council's health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee which met on Wednesday and received a presentation from Ms Shields.

In it the RCH chief and chair of the Urgent and Emergency Care System Board says that the last few weeks have been "extremely challenging" across the country and in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

It states some of the actions which were taken by health bosses after the hospital declared an OPEL 4 status - previously known as 'black alert' - on January 5th.

Ms Shields states: "We have had to take extraordinary actions to avoid another 'critical incident' and to try to maintain safe standards of care".

Included in the examples is the following: "10 hotel rooms were booked provisionally until 7th January to facilitate social discharges or those with low support needs (2 people were supported to leave hospital via that route)".

Other actions taken included encouraging people to use local services such as Minor Injury Units (MIUs) and GP services to avoid going to RCH Treliske.

Extra escalation beds were also opened at Helston, Liskeard and Stratton community hospitals.

The note also details the decision to transfer a clinician from Stratton Hospital to St Austell to extend the opening hours of the MIU which has led to the overnight community treatment centre at Stratton being closed temporarily.

Ms Shields writes: "The extreme actions set out above have returned our system to OPEL 3 but the predicted bed deficit is greater in January than in December and so we can't afford to yet return to business as usual, but we are keeping this under constant review between colleagues in GOLD command".

The reasons for the challenging conditions include an increase the average length of time people spend in hospital beds; flu and norovirus affecting staff and beds closed due to infection; and low levels of flow out of hospital.

There was also overcrowding in A&E due to a lack of acute beds to move patients into. This in turn led to ambulances being delayed.

Concluding her statement Ms Shields wrote: "It is anticipated that as the home care and care home capacity is now returning to full strength after the festive period that we will be able to discharge patients in a more timely way and average length of stay in hospital is beginning to reduce but has still not returned to the level we are relying on in our winter plan.

"We still have wards closed to admission and unable to discharge patients for reasons of infection control.

"As you can see all partners are working tirelessly together to maintain safety and patient experience, but this will continue to be challenging for the rest of the winter period.

"I really appreciate the collaboration and contribution we get from Cornwall Council colleagues and the Cornwall independent care providers and on behalf of the System Urgent and Emergency Care Board would like to thank Councillors for their continued support".

Kate Shields

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