Friday, 14 December 2012

Tis the season to be careful.

I’m feeling a bit cynical today and my mood wasn’t helped when I read a report in the online Elmbridge News from the 28th November. It’s a standard press release from Ashford and St Peters Hospital and was intended to stop people with minor ailments which aren’t emergencies coming to A and E.

It said that “Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is asking local people to think first before they visit the A&E department at St Peter’s Hospital.”

Yes, now I think of it I rather wish I had thought twice myself, although I didn’t have any control over where the ambulance took me.

The report continued; “The trust said that more people are coming to hospital as the weather gets colder, with A&E attendances about 20% higher than normal averages. David Fluck is a medical director at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS foundation Trust. The report quoted him as saying;

“We are currently experiencing extremely high levels of activity in our A&E department and this is putting pressure on our services.”

It seems astonishing to me that the winter peak, which happens every year, is something which the hospital is unable to plan for. If you know that demand will go up by 20% every year, you would expect the hospital would increase staff at that time and reduce it at quieter periods.

In the same way, there are peaks of demand at the weekends and bank holidays, which are easily predictable and yet the cover isn’t there.

My first reaction would be that it is all down to money except that sensible hospitals save time and money by operating a triage system to separate out the urgent cases needing Doctors from minor problems needing a Nurse or advice.

In a while I’ll post extracts from a Daily Mail article dealing with the “nine to five” culture in A and E’s throughout the country but I do need to edit it down and work out how I can separately post the whole item for those who are interested in the detail.  In particular there are some very serious statistics about the increased chances of bad outcomes if you are unlucky enough to fall ill at the weekend. If you have a stroke, you are likely to be in serious trouble.

I, of course, would add that bank holidays are also a very bad time to fall seriously ill. I’ve got my fingers crossed for Christmas, I can tell you!


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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