Critical incident declared at Kettering General after pressure on services grows

The hospital said it was working with the 'combined pressures' of covid and seasonal admissions

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 2:16 pm
Ambulances queue at KGH earlier this week

A critical incident was declared at KGH yesterday (Wednesday, December 9) after the hospital experienced unprecedented demand for its services.

Bosses at the Rothwell Road hospital said that Covid demands as well as a seasonal increase in medical emergencies had forced it to raise its escalation level to allow it to tackle a bed bottleneck as quickly as possible.

A critical incident is declared in exceptional circumstances when a hospital believes that it may not be able to safely deliver its services because of incredibly high demand.

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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.

And over the weekend, both KGH and Northampton General had directly appealed to patients to avoid both hospitals after chief executive Simon Weldon said they were operating at 94 per cent capacity.

The Northants Telegraph understands there to be 93 covid positive patients at the hospital, including five in intensive care.

In a memo seen by reporters, staff were told that an internal critical incident had been declared and asked to avoid admitting new patients, where appropriate, to deintensify pressure on services.

It continued: "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.

"We recognise this is a busy time and want to thank you for your continuing hard work and commitment to caring for our patients."

Staff were told to use the hospital's emergency care teams to help avoid admission to wards, to speed up the discharge process where possible.

In a statement today (Thursday, December 10) Kettering General 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 Christmas holidays.

“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 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.”

The hospital is currently asking the government to provide more than £765m in funding to ensure the people of north Northants have a newly-rebuilt hospital that is fit for the future.