How Winter Can Be Challenging For The NHS

Posted on Mon, 25/11/2019

Our Deputy Medical Director Neil Halford is a Consultant in Emergency Medicine who has worked at the hospital for over 17 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.

This year we have a robust plan to help look after extra patients during the winter and make sure we continue to provide people with the highest quality care. We call this the winter plan and it’s designed to support our services during winter and build on what we know will work best with the resources we have available.

Gateshead is already one of the best performing emergency hospitals in the country and to make sure this continues during winter we’ll be adapting the way we work by:

  • Running a winter ‘hospital to home’ nurse and therapy led ward to free up acute beds for people needing more urgent treatment.
  • Reducing the number of elective (non-urgent) procedures in January to create extra bed capacity.
  • Maximising support for people in their own homes by our dedicated community health teams.
  • Using ward based therapists and pharmacists to support patients on the wards.

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.

You can help us, help you by thinking about the following things:

  • 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.
  • 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 or check 111 online.
  • If you’re a parent worried about childhood illnesses you can download the NHS child health app for your phone.

You can find more information about all of this by checking this dedicated NHS website:

You can also see our current live waiting times for emergency care in Gateshead by clicking here

Call us on 0191 482 0000

In emergencies dial 999 / Non-emergencies dial 111

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