Getting ready for winter

Posted on Fri, 16/11/2018 by medical director Andy Beeby

Our medical director Andrew Beeby is a Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist who has worked at the hospital for 22 years. Here he explains why winter is such a challenge for the NHS and how we’re planning for it this year.

Ask anyone who works in the NHS and they’ll tell you that we’re now heading into the busiest time of the year.

During the winter more people get ill and need hospital treatment which can put a real strain on the whole NHS system. This is because of colder weather making symptoms worse and seasonal illnesses like flu making more people unwell or complicating their existing medical conditions.

For a hospital like the Queen Elizabeth, this surge of extra patients between November and April can be a real challenge for everyone, but with the right plans in place we can ensure that our services are best placed to meet the increased demand.

In 2018 we’ve actually seen demand growing all year so we expect winter to be especially challenging again this year.

That’s why we’re investing £2m to help look after extra patients during the winter and make sure we continue to provide the highest quality care. We call this the winter plan and it’s designed to support our services, enhance specific teams and target our resources to cope with the extra pressure based on extensive research.

Gateshead has been one of the best performing emergency hospitals in the country and we regularly exceed the national standards for things like A&E waiting times, timely transfers of care, minimising long trolley waits and ambulance transfer times.

To make sure this continues during winter we’ll be reorganising the way we work by:

  • Using a winter ‘hospital to home’ nurse and therapy led ward (also known as Ward 6) which will focus on rehabilitation and intensive therapy for patients who are medically ready to go home. This will free up hospital beds for people needing more urgent treatment.

  • Reducing the number of non-urgent operations and procedures in January to create extra bed capacity.

  • Maximising support for people in their own homes through our dedicated community health teams.

  • Recruiting more staff, offering more shifts and getting support from non-ward based nurses.

  • Managers and non-medical staff are volunteering to support wards with tasks like making beds, talking with patients or carrying out errands to help free up clinical teams.

Help us, help you by following these simple tips

These are just some of the things we will be doing this winter to make sure we continue to provide the best possible NHS services to all of our patients, but there are some things that you can do to help this winter too.

  • Unless it’s a medical emergency you should always try to make an appointment with your GP. There are more appointments being made available this winter to help cope with demand.

  • Please order and collect your prescriptions in plenty of time.

  • Make sure you’ve had your flu jab if you are pregnant, are aged 65 years or over or have a long-term health condition.

  • Your local pharmacist can offer help and advice on a range of health issues.

  • For help and advice when it’s not an emergency please call 111

  • If you’re a parent worried about childhood illnesses you can download the NHS child health app for your phone.

You can see more information and advice from the NHS by clicking here

You can see our live waiting times for urgent care in Gateshead by clicking here

Call us on 0191 482 0000

In emergencies dial 999 / Non-emergencies dial 111

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