Colchester Hospital has asked all patients to stay away and avoid going to A&E unless they have a “serious or life-threatening condition”.
The hospital has declared an on going ‘major incident’ which is likely to last a week.
A major incident is defined as an occurrence posing serious threat to a community and disruption to the services whereby the number and type of casualties will be in need of hospital, ambulance trust or primary care organisation implementations.
Examples of major incidents can be serious fires, violent crimes, or hospital-acquired infections that would result in the NHS organisation being overwhelmed.
CQC: Care Quality Commissions gave the hospital a visit and the regulator suggested there were “safeguarding concerns”, including staff incapability to cope with “unprecedented demand”.
That is to say A&E should only be used for life-threatening situations in which medical attention is imperative, this would include broken bones, overdoses, chest pains, poisoning, breathing difficulties, unconsciousness and heavy blood loss for example.
Hospitals must prioritise their time and services to ensure they are “free to help people with the greatest need”, this means that patients who have cuts, wounds, sprains and other similar minor injuries can be treated at walk in centres or units specifically for minor injuries instead.
Following these guidelines will “relieve A&E hospital teams from the pressure” they are currently under, and “reduce waiting times for all patients.”
Over a period of three days, 29 operations had been postponed “as a very last resort”. This does show cause for a concern since government statistics suggest that on average only one operation will be cancelled on a working day.
These patients have been offered an alternative dates for their cancelled operation in the next 28 days.
The CQC gave the hospital an overall rating after their visit in July of “requires improvement”.