Derbyshire Health and Care System under significant pressure as we approach New Year Bank Holiday

The Derbyshire health and care system saw new levels of demand for services during the Christmas bank holiday period and this has continued with pressure on services still increasing as we move towards the New Year bank holiday weekend. Our system is working together to manage this steep rise in demand across all services from people contacting NHS 111 or going to their GP, to those coming into our Urgent Treatment Centres or being brought by ambulance into our Emergency Departments. We are also seeing an impact on our social care system which means that we cannot always discharge patients at the time they become medically fit to leave because of pressure on the services that care for people outside of hospital.

Despite the best efforts of our system partners and dedicated staff who work tirelessly to provide the best possible standards of care, we must make some difficult decisions which will enable us to free up the capacity we need to focus on patients who need our care most. We have now taken a decision to postpone some elective care treatments so that we can dedicate our clinical resources to those requiring urgent and emergency care, and those who are acutely ill. We have not taken this decision lightly and our commitment is that we will only postpone elective treatment where this is unavoidable. We will contact all patients affected with an assurance that we will reschedule their treatment at the earliest opportunity.

In the meantime, we are asking members of the public to support us in a number of important ways so that we can maximise capacity across the health and care system.

What members of the public can do to help:

Our teams continue to work exceptionally hard and we would like to reassure our patients and the public that despite the challenges faced, essential services remain fully open for anyone who needs them so if you require urgent medical help, you should continue to come forward.

Other things which everyone can do to help the NHS right now, include:

  • Only call 999 or attend accident and emergency departments when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
  • When needing urgent medical care but it’s not an emergency, visit NHS 111 online – nhs.uk – or call NHS111 for advice on how to get care at any time of day or night.
  • We are very busy treating an increase in conditions which require hospital care and we are particularly seeing a lot of seriously unwell people with complex respiratory conditions linked to Flu and Covid.  Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) are there for people who have a minor illness or injury, such as sprains, fractures, minor burns, skin infections, animal bites, minor eye and head injuries, stings and bites. Urgent treatment centres/Minor Injury Unitsare available 8am-8pm in Derby, Ilkeston, Ripley, Darley Dale, Buxton, Lichfield and Tamworth and can help with care and treatment for many of the most common issues that people attend emergency departments for. They will often be able to help get the care needed more quickly than accident and emergency departments. Please only attend a UTC if you need urgent treatment for an illness or injury.
  • See a pharmacist for advice on a minor illness such as a cough or cold. Pharmacists are experts in medicines who can help you with minor health concerns. As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.
  • Contact your GP for symptoms that won’t go away, such as lumps, unexpected weight loss, abnormal bleeding and persistent pain.  GP practices also employ highly trained professionals such as physiotherapists, nurses, dieticians and others.
  • Check on neighbours, friends and family who  have an existing respiratory condition, to ensure they are okay and not suffering from additional wheeziness or shortness of breath. It is also important to ensure they are following their care plan with medication, inhalers and oxygen support. If you are concerned and feel you need clinical advice, use NHS 111 online or call 111. It is essential that they receive treatment early and seek to prevent an admission to hospital.
  • Support loved ones who are ready to leave hospital by doing six simple things:
    • Bring clothes for leaving hospital
    • Arrange access to their home or place they call home and to check on heating and food
    • Check transport arrangements
    • Ensure they have any dressings or equipment they need
    • Confirm any follow up appointments
    • Check for valuables and belongings when leaving 
  • If unable to make any NHS appointment, please contact the number on appointment letters so that it can be reallocated to another patient.
  • Please continue to treat all NHS and care staff with the respect they deserve. Our hard-working staff and volunteers are doing all they can to keep patients safe and supported.

There is a range of other steps the community can take at this time help the NHS, and further information is available at www.joinedupcarederbyshire.co.uk

Health and care services continue to work together to resolve the situation.  Measures we have taken to help manage and alleviate pressure have included:

  • Maximising all available and appropriate hospital capacity to provide beds in which to care for our patients
  • Taking additional steps to release patients from the care of ambulance crews to enable them to get back on the road to see the next patient, including extra capacity in ED and extra consultants on hand to assess the clinical needs of patients on arrival, with the aim of turning crews around in no more than 15 minutes from arrival
  • Diverting all clinically-trained staff to provide direct care and support, and cancelling all non-essential training
  • Opening more than 40 additional community-based beds to support discharge from acute hospitals.

We will continue to prioritise patients in order of clinical need to ensure that we can continue to manage emergency care.  We are working hard to protect planned appointments and operations for patients who have an urgent need or have already waited a long time for their procedure.  If you are not contacted directly, please continue to attend your appointment for all services and continue to call 999 where there is a threat to life.