Nurse staffing levels are being boosted at Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust, after it declared a major incident due to high demand in its accident and emergency departments over the weekend.
The trust is urging the local population to consider other services for treatment and advice, following an increase in the number of people attended A&E with minor illnesses or injuries that could have been seen to in the community.
There were also higher admissions by ambulances and walk-in patients than expected, adding to the pressure, said a spokeswoman for the trust – which runs Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals.
“We are urging the public to think very carefully before attending our emergency departments”
She said: “The emergency departments were under massive pressure over the weekend. In some cases they had people attending who had been given antibiotics by a GP the previous week and they didn’t feel they were working so were coming into A&E for help.”
More beds at the A&E departments – as well as community hospitals where patients will be transferred when possible – alongside increased staffing levels have been introduced to cope with the demand , the spokeswoman added.
Susan Field, director of service transformation at Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, which runs the county’s community hospitals and its community nursing service, said: “We will continue to respond to the increased demand that we are all experiencing and this means continuously working with patients and their families to ensure they are discharged at the earliest possible opportunity to maximise the availability of services and beds.”
She added: “Our community services and integrated community teams will continue to work closely with GPs across the county to help ensure people are able to recover in their own homes instead of going to a hospital unnecessarily.”
The government announced a £300m cash boost in November to help the NHS deal with an expected surge in demand over the winter.
Speaking at the time, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the money would be used for more staff and extra bed space, but warned it was unsustainable for A&E departments to continue to bear the brunt of this pressure and that more should be done to encourage patients to use other health services.