Harrogate A&E waiting times improve but hospital remains under ‘considerable pressure’ as strike days loom

A&E waiting times at Harrogate District Hospital have improved since the Christmas peak but the hospital remains under “considerable pressure” with almost no unoccupied beds available and two days of strike action expected next week.
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It’s been a challenging winter at the hospital on Lancaster Park Road due to a higher than average number of admissions to its A&E department as well as a fresh wave of Covid-19 and flu inpatients.

The hospital will be put under further pressure on January 18 and 19 when members of the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) take part in strike action over pay and conditions.

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Members of the RCN who work for Harrogate District NHS Foundation Trust are on the list for the second wave of action in an escalation of its pay dispute with the UK government.

Harrogate Hospital remains under considerable pressureHarrogate Hospital remains under considerable pressure
Harrogate Hospital remains under considerable pressure

Two days of strikes were held in England, Northern Ireland and Wales on December 15 and 20 but Harrogate nurses did not take part.

Visitors to A&E have experienced long waiting times as healthcare staff have prioritised patients with serious and life-threatening conditions.

Between December 19 and January 1 — 1,993 people attended A&E, an average of 142 a day.

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524 of these people were then admitted to the hospital for further treatment.

However, since the new year the average number of daily visitors to A&E has fallen to 127, helping to reduce waiting times and ease the burden on under-pressure staff.

The overall situation at the hospital also worsened due to the high number of beds filled with patients suffering with Covid-19 but since January 4 that figure has fallen from 22 to 17.

The number of patients suffering from flu has also dropped to single digits from over 30 last week.

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A Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust (HDFT) spokesperson said the fall in Covid and flu patients has been welcome and has “made flow through our hospitals a little easier”.

To further ease pressure at A & E, the hospital recently introduced a new “streaming model” for minor injuries so staff can focus on patients with more serious conditions.

Last Friday, the hospital had its largest-ever discharge day with 81patients returning to their homes or care home.

The spokesperson said: “We would like to thank everyone involved at HDFT and our partners in social care who helped us which made the weekend a lot easier.

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But despite an improving situation with more free beds in certain wards, the spokesperson said that today (January 10) there is just two unnoccupied beds out of 298.

They added there are still many patients who are able to return home but cannot as they are waiting to be placed into a care home or home.

The spokesperson said: “We would ask for the families of patients to help us support their loved one’s discharge home as soon as their medical condition allows.

“For people who require medical assistance and are considering visiting our emergency department, unless it’s a life-threatening or severe illness or injury, we would ask them to contact NHS 111 first either by calling or going online. The NHS will help them right away and if they need urgent care, the NHS can book them in to be seen quickly and safely.

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“People with life-threatening illnesses or injuries should continue to dial 999 and anyone who arrives at A&E without calling NHS 111 will still receive medical care, with those needing emergency treatment prioritised”.

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