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Operational Pressures

Operational Pressures

Derriford Hospital is extremely busy, operating on red alert. This is because we have seen a high number of patients attending as emergencies, many of these are acutely unwell and need to be admitted as medical emergencies into the hospital.

We have opened 41 'escalation' beds - every extra bed in every extra space we have. However, these beds are not planned for and therefore we did not have rostered staff to care for patients in these beds. Hence why we have been appealing for staff to work additional shifts, offers additional payments and used other temporary staff.

During the summer and autumn, we took a raft of measures including putting extra staff in our Emergency Department, opening more beds and creating an Integrated Discharge Team with the City Council. We are also leading in innovative work to avoid people being admitted to hospital.

But despite everything we have done, meeting increased demand from a population that is living longer but with more illness and disability, as an acute hospital is extremely difficult. This is a national phenomenon but felt particularly in the south west due to the age profile of our population.

We cannot turn away patients who are medical emergencies but the demand for beds means we having to cancel around 15 planned operations and procedures per day at the moment. We apologise sincerely to those patients affected by this.

Our staff are working extremely hard, often giving over and above beyond what we would expect. We would like to publicly thank them for this.

If patients need non-emergency medical care, please contact your GP or, out-of-hours, NHS 111.

If you have an appointment at Derriford Hospital please attend as planned, unless contacted otherwise.

Update on Wednesday 3 February

Yesterday was a better day, so although the hospital remains very busy, we do have beds available and today we are hoping to close some of the 41 escalation beds. We remain on red alert.

We would like to once again apologise to anyone whose operation or procedure has been cancelled as a result of the emergency pressures. Our staff are working hard to re-book people affected as soon as possible.

We would like to end by thanking the public for the amazing messages of support we have received , on social media and in person for our staff and the work they do. Our staff are working incredibly hard and these comments have been much appreciated at a tough time.


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