KGH's plans to make sure it doesn't run out of beds this winter

The hospital predicts it will be short of beds in January unless measures are taken

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 7:45 am
Kettering General Hospital.

Kettering General Hospital bosses have outlined plans to make sure they have enough beds for sick patients as they prepare for a tough winter.

Hospital modelling of a 'likely' scenario suggests that in January 2022 - the worst month - the Rothwell Road site would be 38 adult beds short without any mitigation measures.

Plans as part of a county response to winter planning are in place to reduce that deficit to six under 'green' viable schemes, with support from 'system partners' to bridge the remaining gap.

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But a report discussed by executives has also warned that there is a risk that paediatric demand could exceed capacity if respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) admissions rise sharply - with conversations already taking place with Northampton General Hospital to explore the option to transfer paediatric activity to them.

And work is also currently ongoing to explore options of 'co-locating' elective inpatient procedures at one site or another for winter.

Kettering General Hospital’s chief operating officer, Fay Gordon, said: “County health and social care organisations are currently working closely together to put plans in place for winter and prepare for the likely challenges we will face.

“By collaborating we hope to ensure that people can be supported at home, or be treated appropriately for any medical need in hospital, and be discharged home, or back into their local community, as quickly as possible.

“In the acute hospitals we have looked carefully at demand predictions and put plans in place to manage winter pressures and ensure we have enough bed capacity to manage peaks in demand safely."

Last year KGH declared a critical incident in early December because of pressure on their services, before moving to the highest alert level later than month.

Plans in place for this winter at the Kettering hospital include opening an additional 29-bed medical escalation ward, the Poplar Ward.

KGH is also planning to have a 'virtual ward' where clinicians will be providing more clinical monitoring and advice for patients who use oxygen at home to prevent them becoming a hospital admission.

They will also be providing wards with additional therapy input to speed up the discharge of patients who are ready to go home, putting more administrative support into wards to help speed up the necessary paperwork for discharges, and doing more blood test work earlier in the day to enable earlier discharge.

Hospital bosses say they will also again be encouraging appropriate use of A&E. They have previously warned that many people coming to the hospital for emergency treatment could be seen at Corby's urgent care centre instead, which would pressure on the strained A&E.

The hospital says additional central funding is planned to support winter pressures and Covid recovery by the Government. They anticipate that some of their schemes may benefit from this support.

Ms Gordon added: “Together these measures will help us to better support our winter plan to manage projected demand for hospital care.”

A report by hospital chief executive Deborah Needham revealed they took the decision to open part of their winter escalation ward in early September. She said they did this to ensure they could safely care for patients who required admission, citing of increased pressure as a result of non-Covid emergencies.

A paper discussed by hospital executives also said it was clear that the use of the Sir Thomas Moore Ward - opened as a temporary step-down ward last year - and other capacity will be required through the winter to safely manage the demand.