Derbyshire asks patients to not store up care needs

The Derbyshire health and care system continues to be exceptionally busy, continuing to declare a critical incident while dealing with significant and sustained demand for services.  The critical incident had been declared on Tuesday 20th December to help clinically prioritise care and maintain safe services for patients.

Wednesday has seen the first day of strike action by ambulance service members of the GMB union.  Following detailed preparation, the impact on service pressure has been effectively managed so far, although strikes will continue until 05:59 on Thursday 22nd December.

The most important message for the public is to help health and care services avoid an influx of demand once the ambulance strikes have ended, and after the upcoming Christmas Bank Holiday weekend. The public are being asked to continue to access the NHS for care in the usual manner, accepting that there may be longer waits for care in some health and care settings.

Our teams continue to work exceptionally hard, and we would like to reassure our patients and the public that despite the challenges faced, the NHS remains open for care, but it is important that people to think carefully about where is best to go for the help they need. 

Chris Weiner, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Derby and Derbyshire, said: “We have planned in detail to manage the winter period, and for the recent and future strike action in parts of the NHS.  This planning has helped immensely, and we continue to respond to pressure as a collaborative health and care system.

“Our concern at this point is that members of the public may be storing up their health conditions until the days after the strikes, or the days following the four-day Christmas Bank Holiday weekend.  This may result in a bow wave of significant pressure which the services will find very challenging to manage and may impact of the quality of care we able to deliver.

“For life threatening conditions, continue to call 999 or attend A&E.  Waiting times in A&E are upwards of 8 hours at present.  For urgent but non-life threatening conditions consider an urgent treatment centre, where you will be seen much quicker.  For self-limiting conditions, please consider a pharmacy or over-the-counter remedies. If you are not sure what type of service to use, visit NHS 111 online.”

Further actions for the public

Urgent treatment centres can be found in Derby, Tamworth, Lichfield, Ilkeston, Ripley, Darley Dale, Buxton and can help with care for dealing with the most common issues that people attend emergency departments for. Waiting times are always shorter than accident and emergency departments if suffering from things like a burn or a sprain.

  • For other non-urgent cases when you need medical advice and it’s not an emergency, please speak to a pharmacist.
  • Please work with hospital teams to support the discharge of friends and relatives. Having your loved ones’ homes ready, with food in the fridge, the heating on and someone available to meet the transport crew on arrival to help your friends or relative get settled can make a difference to our ability to help get patients home once they are medically fit and to release our transport crews to provide a service for the next patient.
  • If you cannot make any NHS appointment, please contact the number on your appointment letter so that it can be reallocated to another patient.

What we are doing

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.

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.