A surge in Covid absences and prolonged heatwaves have forced NHS hospitals and emergency services to cope.
The hot weather is also bringing more patients to A&E departments and callers are being urged not to use 999 except in serious emergencies.
10 emergency trusts in England are on black alert, the highest ever, and health leaders are warning that “ill-equipped” hospital buildings are struggling to properly store medicines amid abnormally high temperatures.
Martin Flaherty, chief executive of the Association of Ambulance Executives, said: “The NHS Ambulance sector is under intense pressure, with all ambulance services operating at the highest level under the four local resource escalation action plans normally reserved for essentials only. Incidents or short-term periods of unusual demand.
“Severe delays in ambulance crews being able to transfer their patients to hospital emergency departments have a very significant impact on the ability of the ambulance sector to respond to patients as quickly as we would like, as our crews and vehicles are stuck outside them. hospitals. “
“On top of this, we have a number of staff absent due to the increase in covid cases, as well as the added pressure of the current hot weather, which makes things even more difficult for our staff and of course the patients they care for. “
One South West Trust executive warned that pressures were mounting this summer and that the heatwave could be a “tipping point”.
He added: “We’re going to start seeing a lot more numbers, so I think we’re at a tipping point where we may have to drop some electives.”
Several hospital trusts and entire regions are also on black alert, warning patients to stay away from A&E as their services struggle with staff shortages and high temperatures caused by Covid.
The doctors also informed independent As more elderly patients are affected by the heat, A&E departments are seeing more elderly patients attending wards this week.
NHS Blood and Transplant, which last week issued an alert on blood stock levels, warned that donations typically drop by 10 to 15 per cent in hot weather.
The figures show that Covid levels have reached a new pandemic record, with an average of 351,000 people infected every day, according to the latest cases from ZOE Covid research.
Dr Leila McKay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said Independent: “As well as the increase in demand, extreme warmth It also puts additional pressure on often outdated and ill-equipped NHS buildings and estates.
“We know that as temperatures rise, NHS organizations across the country are struggling to keep medicines, food, laboratory kits and IT equipment at the right temperature.”
He added: “The rise in Covid cases means that staff sickness and absence are increasing very quickly and lasting longer, at a time when the NHS is already experiencing chronic staff shortages and is holding 105,000 vacancies.
“In some parts of the NHS, sickness rates for normal staff have doubled. With the extreme effects of the heat on many in our communities, health services continue to experience extremely high demand. “
Miriam Deakin, acting chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “All signs point to a very difficult summer, autumn and winter for the depleted NHS as the strain on beds and overstretched staff increases.
“If the heat takes a toll on people’s health, it will put more pressure on services – especially emergency services, which are always in high demand in hot weather – as we are already dealing with recent weekly increases in the number of Covid-19 hospital admissions.
independent It is understood that at one trust in the East of England, NHS chiefs are being warned about the impact of the current heatwave on the ability to keep medicines at the right temperature.
A source at the trust said they were surprised by the “lack of awareness hospitals on the importance of storing all drugs and medicines below specific temperatures,” adding that many older buildings likely have “limited” air conditioning and will use storage facilities that can easily overheat in the record heat.
“Old storage facilities built at a time when room temperature was considered the norm for all common medicines … can be very hot,” the source said.
The Care Quality Commission, the UK’s health and social care regulator, has identified many hospitals in recent years as struggling to consistently maintain the appropriate temperature for storing medicines.
NHS services are on black alert as hospitals struggle to stock up on medicines
Source link NHS services are on black alert as hospitals struggle to stock up on medicines