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Hospitals in Greater Manchester coping with busy time of year

Date published: 11 January 2019


The week commencing Monday 31 December 2018 to Sunday 6 January 2019 for Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (the body overseeing the devolution of the £6bn health and care budget in the city region) was, as predicted, a very busy time for local hospitals.

Jon Rouse CBE, chief officer for Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said: “As expected, we have seen more patients with serious conditions going to accident and emergency over the last week and we envisage that this could continue to increase.

“It’s really important to stay warm, stay well and look after vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours.

“Our hospitals will be very busy so we ask people only to come to A&E if really needed.

“Care and support is available from your GP practice and local pharmacy as well as NHS 111, including NHS 111 online.

“Due to circulating norovirus and flu within care homes this has further increased pressure on bed occupancy in our hospitals.

“We strongly urge people to ensure that they take up flu vaccinations if they are eligible and take appropriate medical advice if they have norovirus.”

Hospitals were very busy with both high bed occupancy levels and a high number of people self-presenting to A&E departments. Bed occupancy across Greater Manchester was 91.42% this week, up from 90.04% last week.

There were 25,894 attendances at A&E at Greater Manchester hospitals. This is higher than the previous week but lower than the equivalent week last year which saw 26,600 attendances.

There were no A&E closures during this time.

There were nine A&E diverts for ambulance patients from and to other hospitals within Greater Manchester.

Only one of these affected hospitals within the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust with patients being diverted from the Royal Oldham Hospital to Fairfield General Hospital and North Manchester General.

Diverts from one hospital to another are a well-established way of managing very busy periods at hospitals and excludes people in extreme clinical need, meaning that these people are not travelling further for urgent care.

The number of 999 ambulance calls between 31 December and 6 January was 12,487.

This is an increase on the previous week (11,664) but it is common to receive multiple calls for one incident, particularly those in public places like the incident at Victoria Station on 31 December.

The total number of 999 incidents in Greater Manchester was 9,456. This is higher than the previous week (9,193). 61% of these calls resulted in an ambulance taking a patient to A&E.

No hospital trust in Greater Manchester went above OPEL Level 3 (Operational Pressures) during this period.

A&E being busy does not mean that the system is not coping. It is expected to be busy at this time of year with increased demand. A significant amount of planning and preparation has taken place to ensure patients with life-threatening, emergency or serious conditions will always receive the highest priority from the NHS. 

This last week has been the busiest of the winter to date and systems have been under significant pressure. The focus has been on maintaining flow of patients and keeping services safe at all times.

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