Increase in demand for emergency services sees NHS Devon and Cornwall under significant pressure
Pressure has been mounting on health services in Devon and Cornwall due to Covid related troubles. There has been a rise in patients admitted with Covid, more demand for emergency treatments, ambulances and GP appointments, and a difficulty in providing care packages necessary to discharge patients.
According to the South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT), warm weather and high tourist numbers can help account for the high levels of calls in the past few weeks, at times receiving a call every 25 seconds. This is partly due to the increasing popularity of “staycations” across the country, where Devon and Cornwall are top destinations. Chief executive Will Warrender affirmed the SWASFT is receiving “the highest level of sustained demand on our 999 service we have ever known” and urges the public to only call 999 for “genuine, life-threatening emergencies”, People are instead encouraged to call 111 or their own GP first.
“The highest levels of sustained demand on our 999 service we have ever known”
Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust Medical Director, Dr Allister Grant has stated: “There has been no let-up in demand and currently have more than 40 people in hospital who are COVID positive and nearly 50 more who are contacts and need to be isolated. A large proportion of the patients admitted for other medical problems or injuries have been unaware they have COVID until tested on admission and need to be cared for in separate areas to other patients.” He further disclosed there are “more than 100 people in our three hospitals who are ready to leave but are in need of care or support packages”. This takes up further beds and resources that are greatly needed to keep up with the higher number of incoming patients.
In response the NHS has had to a temporarily pause routine work in Cornwall and Devon, “including operations, outpatient appointments and some follow-up appointments for patients with long-term conditions”. Dr Paul Johnson, Clinical Chair of NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group apologized: “We know that this means people will be waiting longer for care and we are deeply sorry. These decisions are not taken lightly.” Critical operations are still underway and patients with the most urgent needs are prioritized.
Editor: Orla Mackinnon