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Sustained level of demand on hospital

Derriford Hospital is experiencing an extreme level of demand on its services. If patients need non-emergency medical care, please contact your GP, visit the Cumberland Centre ( or a local pharmacist. Out-of-hours, patients need to call NHS 111.

Derriford Hospital has been increasingly busy since the end of January, with a sustained level of demand that has not decreased. We are seeing 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.

When the hospital faces this level of demand, we follow the national escalation plan and as a consequence, we have today declared ourselves as being in a state of ‘black’.

By declaring ourselves in black status and agreeing this with our partners, it signals to them the pressures and risks we are facing and it enables everyone – community hospitals, social care, GPs – to take additional measures. Many of these partners have been working in the hospital to help. It may also see us doing things outside of normal practice, such as move patients during protected mealtimes and putting patients of different genders within the same bay.

Currently, we have nearly 72 medical outliers, we have opened 30 escalation beds and we have had to postpone a number of planned investigations and operations. There are a number of patients who are currently in our beds, who do not require acute hospital care and we are working with our community partners to arrange suitable discharges.

We are also seeing an increase in demand for respiratory services, with patients presenting with sepsis and flu-like symptoms. This has also been experienced at other health organisations and therefore we request extra vigilance with regards to both visitors and staff alike.

We cannot turn away patients who are medical emergencies but the demand for beds means we are having to cancel patients. Cancelling a patient’s operation is a very difficult decision for us to take and where possible we are trying to give our patients and their families as much notice as possible. We apologise sincerely to those patients affected by this.

If patients need non-emergency medical care, please contact your GP, visit the Cumberland Centre or a local pharmacist or, out-of-hours, call NHS 111.

It is the efforts of our staff, who are working incredibly hard to meet the pressures and to ensure our patients continue to be well cared for at a time of unprecedented pressures.

When the pressure abates, we will of course, provide an update via our usual channels, including social media.


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