KGH on highest alert level as bed base pressures grow

All meetings have been cancelled with staff urged to expedite discharges

Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 3:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 3:04 pm
Ambulances at KGH.

Kettering General Hospital has declared an internal incident after moving to the highest alert level because of pressure on their bed base.

This morning (Wednesday) the hospital moved up to Operational Pressures Escalation Levels (Opel) 4 and has told staff to cancel all meetings to help clinical teams make sure beds are available for their most seriously ill patients.

Bosses at the Rothwell Road site have urged staff to think about whether the same-day emergency care teams can help avoid admission to wards and whether anything could be done to speed up the process to get patients home.

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Clinical teams have been told to identify patients who can be safely discharged today and over the weekend.

A memo to staff today, seen by the Northants Telegraph, said: "All meetings are to be cancelled and all staff are to be supporting clinical teams to expedite discharges.

"We are currently dealing with high demand for our services across KGH.

"The impact this is having on our capacity is affecting our ability to care for patients in the most effective way.

"To ensure we have beds for our most seriously ill patients, we need clinical staff to focus on admission avoidance and discharges wherever it is safe to do so."

Opel 4, the highest alert level, is declared when escalating pressure leaves an organisation unable to deliver comprehensive care, with an increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised.

The Northants Telegraph understands that on Christmas Eve KGH was caring for 73 Covid patients.

That figure included nine in intensive care, believed to be the highest number in ICU since the first wave of the virus.

Hospital managers across the country had already warned that they were expecting this winter to be incredibly tough given the resources needed to contain Covid outbreaks as well as normal seasonal increases in patients.

Covid patients also need to be isolated from non-Covid patients, causing further pressures.

Earlier this month KGH declared a critical incident because of demand for its services.

In a statement issued today (December 30) the hospital’s chief operating officer, Jo Fawcus, said: “The hospital is currently very busy with the combined pressures of Covid-19 pandemic and the normal increase in medical emergencies we get during the winter months.

“To tackle these peaks in demand we have an internal escalation process is to help us to respond to particular pressures that are arising as quickly as possible.

“In this case it was about working to create appropriate bed capacity to meet the needs of our patients.

“Covid impacts on that because clearly we need to isolate Covid positive patients from the rest of our inpatients, and this creates pressures on our bed base.

“Escalation helps us to respond to this pressure by focusing on discharges to create capacity where it is needed.

“It also helps us with longer term planning – for example preparing for the weekends and preparing for the forthcoming Bank Holiday period.

“Local people can help us to free up capacity by supporting our discharge process as quickly as possible and by only accessing our emergency care facilities when only absolutely necessary. Using NHS111 and Corby Urgent Care Centre also help our clinical teams to focus on the patients most in need of hospital care.”

At times before Christmas both KGH and Northampton General Hospital were operating at 94 per cent capacity.

KGH currently has almost £400m in funding to rebuild its ageing hospital, but needs at least £765m to make a real difference and is set to launch a campaign to lobby for more cash.