Our health correspondent, ALAN FINLAY, on the latest emerging crisis at the borough’s largest hospital, where there can be four-hour waits for emergency beds
Mayday Hospital is already been operating at more than 100 per cent capacity for bed use, even before what is regarded as the peak demand of the winter season for NHS medical attention.
That was the chill warning provided at last week’s health scrutiny committee meeting held at the Town Hall.
The NHS in south-west London and Surrey is looking at “reconfiguration” – Tory austerityspeak for closures, cuts and more privatisation. That most likely means the closure of St Helier Hospital’s maternity and A&E departments, with potentially massive impact on Croydon’s largest hospital.
Yet it has emerged that even with the current number of available beds, Mayday (or what NHS administrators insist on calling Croydon University Hospital) has been running overcapacity even before this month.
Addressing the scrutiny meeting, Mayday’s new chief executive, Matthew Kershaw, told councillors that “we are running very close to 100 per cent capacity every day”.
Sometimes, the hospital scores more than 100 per cent bed usage in a day because it fills a bed with a new patient in the evening after it has been vacated earlier in the day.
With demand for hospital beds expected to rise further into the winter, Kershaw said that temporary extra beds are being provided to cope with the increased demand, and “better process” will be followed by hospital staff. It was unclear from Kershaw where the space would be found for these extra beds.
It was also not explained how all this might work if, or when, St Helier’s accident and emergency department is closed. Conservative councillor Andy Stranack, who on the council’s behalf attends the joint overview and scrutiny committee for NHS South West London, told his fellow councillors that papers he had seen showed that a St Helier closure would “have a massive impact on Croydon University Hospital; a table in the papers showed that 115 more beds would be needed.”
Even Stranack mocked the use of the words “reconfiguration of services”.
The new £21million A&E department at Mayday has not yet created improved efficiencies in using beds, though Kershaw believes that this will come with time.
For the moment, though, the bed capacity issue means that on occasion half the most needy cases in A&E have to stay there more than four hours before admittance into the hospital, according to Kershaw.
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