NHS Mayday: south London hospitals among 20 on Black Alert

The largest NHS hospitals in Croydon and Sutton have this week had to resort to providing medical care for adults on children’s wards, amid the gathering crisis in England’s healthcare system.

But where do you go for financial intensive care?

Where do you go for financial intensive care?

The Epsom and St Helier Trust, which manages the St Helier Hospital in Sutton, is cited in a report in today’s Guardian newspaper which states that more than 20 hospitals in England have declared a “black alert” after becoming so overcrowded that they could no longer guarantee patient safety and provide their full range of services.

And at Croydon’s Mayday Hospital, adult patients are being treated in a children’s ward as a way of keeping up with the growing patient demand amid reduced resources.

The hospital – known by some as Croydon University Hospital – has said the “temporary” switch has allowed it to have access to 12 extra beds on the ward.

“Like all hospitals, we are currently extremely busy. We have opened extra surgical beds on one of our children’s wards to care for our younger patients,” a spokesman told the Croydon Guardian.

“This has allowed us to temporarily switch what would routinely be used a children’s surgical ward to treat only adult patients before and after their operations.”

According to the report in the national Guardian newspaper, guidance which NHS England issued last October told hospitals to declare what is called a black alert when they have become “unable to deliver comprehensive care [and] there is increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised”.

The Guardian has discovered “at least 23 hospital trusts declaring they cannot cope since Monday”. Among the steps taken by the over-stretched, under-resourced hospitals have been the cancellation of cancer operations, treating adults in children’s wards and closing a birthing centre to help cope with a sudden influx of patients who need to be admitted for treatment.

Hospitals are expected to come under even greater strain of additional patient demand over the next few days, with the arrival of snow, ice and cold wintry weather.

It will be a significant challenge for the hospital management. Yesterday, Caroline Landon, the chief operating officer at the Epsom and St Helier Trust, told the Guardian: “For a short period last week we used our paediatric day case units to care for adult patients who urgently needed a hospital bed. We also used our adult day case unit and medical infusion suite for the same purpose.”

'Irresponsible', according to Theresa Maybe

‘Irresponsible’, according to Theresa Maybe

The Guardian’s report comes a day after the Tory Prime Minister, Theresa Maybe, described the international charity the Red Cross as “irresponsible” for revealing that it had been called to intervene in some over-stretched NHS hospitals to assist with what it calls “a humanitarian crisis”.

The Tories continue to maintain that they are providing more funding for the NHS. Yet the Guardian reports that the Royal Surrey in Guildford, used by many of the constituents of health secretary Jeremy Hunt, is among those hospitals on black alert for lack of resources.

So while the Prime Minister was trying to belittle and diminish the Red Cross and health professionals by claiming that it is “not unusual” for there to be pressures on the NHS in the winter, while highlighting that her Government had provided £10billion extra funding for the health service, Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England was telling the Commons Public Accounts Committee that that money was less than the NHS has asked for.

“It does not help anybody to pretend there aren’t finance gaps,” Stevens told MPs, as he confirmed that after inflation, NHS spending per person in 2018-2019 would go down.

The NHS in Croydon generally is in the midst of another round of spending cuts, being forced by Hunt’s Department of Health to reduce its budgets by £45million over the next four years, with services including IVF treatment and the women’s mental health refuge at Foxley Lane being withdrawn.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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7 Responses to NHS Mayday: south London hospitals among 20 on Black Alert

  1. dieseltaylor says:

    Thanks for providing an on the ground view of the shambles that is currently going on. Unfortunately as we know the drug companies having been overcharging on generics which has finally been caught in a couple of instances<
    There remains the fundamental problem of very expensive drugs being used in a small number of cases where the benefits for the NHS overall are small. NICE has been under attack in its attempts to restrict the use of highly expensive new drugs. People need to realise that one years treatment for one person is probably the equivalent of a couple of nurses or a bed space in money terms.

  2. joeycan says:

    If prevention is better than cure, then keeping patients out of A&E departments over the winter period (December to March!) by distributing the most effective remedies in time, has got to be the answer. A wider view should be taken over the use of expensive medicines and their preventative benefits.
    It is like the other perennial – that of failing to spread effective anti-slip salt in timely fashion during icy weather – only to have an influx of elderly victims who lose their balance and require A&E attention when those overstretched department least need the work.

  3. And apparently we don’t need one or two of our local hospitals? Madness!

  4. croydonres says:

    Yes, don’t they want to get rid of St Helier ?. Can you believe it ?!

  5. FACT. Too many foreigners using our NATIONAL Health Service, equals gridlock. This is an inconvenient truth that many left wingers choose to ignore.
    Whilst living in New Zealand for a year, I as a foreigner myself had to quite rightly pay for the treatments that I needed. I had no complaints about having to do so. Why should I receive free treatment in a country that I had not contributed to? (Indeed I even worked and paid tax yet still paid for my own treatment)
    Its simple, we need to have all visitors prove they have health insurance before entry to the UK is allowed. Waiting times and beds taken by non-contributors will drop overnight. Why this does not makes sense to lefties who will play the race card (when of course I am talking about any foreigner regardless of race, colour, religion or nationality) will always be of bafflement to me…or not!

  6. When I was a lad the Doctor used to come to your home & visit, I remember being diagnosed with measles in the comfort of my bed & my sister was disgnosed with whooping cough following a home visit. I think a lot of pressure on A&E stems from the lack of availability & access to GP’s, in part stemming from the contracting out of out of hours GP services which Blair/Brown introduced. With Surgeries now offering appointments later in to the evening this may help the pressure on A&E allowing them to treat real “Accidents or Emergencies”.
    A recent visit to A&E we sat next to a chap who was receiving advice that the blister on his heel was the result of his new, ill fitting shoes. He was given a plaster & sent on his way, happy in the knowledge that he wasn’t going to lose his foot but disappointed he didn’t get a prescription for antibiotics & elastoplast.
    The public have to start taking responsibility for not attending A&E for non urgent treatments, a campaign similar to the one that the Emergency Services Call centre just had highlighting some of the ridiculous calls they receive may help.

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