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Home > News > Help ease pressure on hospitals this winter

Help ease pressure on hospitals this winter

Posted on Wednesday 21st January 2015
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Patients across North and West Cumbria are being reminded about the importance of using the right NHS service for the severity of their symptoms to help ease pressure on busy hospital teams this winter. 

Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle are currently experiencing a high number of very poorly patients requiring admission to hospital. Therefore anyone suffering from less serious symptoms is being asked to think about whether there is another NHS service which they could use to get help.

Like all NHS organisations across the country, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has escalation plans in place to enable both hospitals to cope with additional winter pressures and above average emergency admissions.

West Cumberland Hospital has received an extra seven beds this week from Wigton Community Hospital which will be left in place in the coming weeks should the higher than average demand for hospital admission continue.

Jan Wharton, Head of Resilience at the Trust, explained: “We have robust escalation plans in place and are working very closely with our partners across health and social care to ensure that we can cope with the extra demands which inevitably come at this time of year. Like Trusts up and down the country we have made sure that we have created additional bed capacity to help us manage fluctuations in demand.”

The Cumberland Infirmary is also experiencing additional pressures on beds due to an ongoing norovirus outbreak, which means patients cannot be admitted to some ward areas until all of the patients there have been free of diarrhoea and vomiting for 48 hours.

Everyone has an important role to play in helping to reduce the spread of winter viruses and anyone visiting loved ones in hospital is reminded to follow this guidance:

  • If you or your family have had symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting in the past four days, please do not visit friends or relatives in hospital until you are symptom free for at least 48 hours
  • Always wash your hands regularly with soap and water when entering and leaving the ward – hand wash basins are provided in patient bays
  • Do not sit on patient beds and always use chairs provided
  • Please limit visitors to two per patient and avoid bringing very young children who may be vulnerable to infection

Dr Peter Weaving, GP clinical director at the Trust, added: “Winter is always a very busy time for our hospitals so before you come to A&E, please take a moment to think carefully about whether you could be treated elsewhere.

“Diarrhoea and vomiting, colds and flu are all unpleasant but in the majority of cases these illnesses can be treated at home with rest and plenty of fluids. Your local high street pharmacy can give expert, fast and confidential advice and treatment for many common complaints and can refer you on to other services if needed. Attending A&E with these conditions will only spread germs amongst other more vulnerable and seriously ill patients.

“If you are suffering from cold or flu and feel that your symptoms are getting worse and don’t clear up after a few days, telephone your local GP surgery or out of hours service for advice.”

If you require medical assistance out of hours please call Cumbria Health on Call (CHoC) on 03000 247 247 . The NHS across Cumbria is working together this winter to provide advice on how to treat a range of common winter conditions by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home or speaking to your local pharmacist. For more information visit www.keepcalmthiswinter.org.uk.