With so many different stories about the NHS in the news and social media, I recognise this can lead to various mixed message, as well as causing further worry for patients and visitors coming to hospital.
We know from previous years, January is a particularly busy time for us. Right now, we are experiencing significant pressure and a sustained demand on our services, with lots of very sick patients coming into hospital and needing to stay with us. Many of these patients are experiencing chest pains and respiratory problems but we are also seeing presentations of gastroenteritis and patients with flu-like symptoms.
With our priority needing to be on the sickest and the most acutely unwell patients in our care, this, regrettably, has meant that we have needed to make some very difficult decisions; including cancelling some surgery and outpatient appointments.
Cancelling patients is certainly not something we ever want to do. It is a decision we do not like to take, and it is one that we will only take once a clinical review has been made by the medical teams. If this needs to happen, we will always try to give our patients and their families as much notice as we can, although sometimes this is not possible.
These decisions are never easy on anyone and I apologise unreservedly for any added anxiety or worry this might be causing. We will do our very best to give you up to date information and a replacement appointment, as soon as we are able to.
Understandably, our staff have been receiving calls and messages from patients today about whether their appointments are going ahead and/or if they should be coming to hospital. Please note, unless you have been contacted by a member of our staff to tell you otherwise, we would ask that you please still come for your appointment.
To provide support for our patients, at this time, we have a dedicated number for you to call, to help with answering any queries. To speak to someone, please call 01752 433111. The line will be open 8.00am-7.00pm, from Wednesday 3 January until further notice.
Our staff have been brilliant; working tirelessly and going above and beyond. Staff from right across the organisation have been working additional shifts, staying on later, coming in earlier, etc. doing their very best for our patients. These incredible efforts have not gone unnoticed and we are extremely grateful to all of you for your continued support and efforts.
Thank you for your understanding and support during this period.
Chief Executive of Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust
How you can help
There are some things you can help us with. We know there are currently various viruses and bugs out in the community. If you have a relative or friend in hospital, we know how important your visits can be to your loved ones, but if you are feeling unwell, then the best thing you can do for them is to give them a call, rather than risk coming up and passing something on to them and/or others being cared for in the hospital.
Most people who come to hospital, need to be here. But occasionally, patients do come to our Emergency Department that could be seen and treated elsewhere. Please make yourself aware of services that you can access. If you or a relative need non-emergency medical care or advice, please contact your GP, visit the Minor Injuries Units at the Cumberland Centre, Plymouth, Tavistock Hospital or South Hams Hospital or a local pharmacist. Out-of-hours, patients need to call NHS 111.