Pressure at hospitals in other regions
Half the patients in intensive therapy unit beds at the Royal Devon and Exeter are ‘out-of-area’ patients, hospital trust board members have been told.
The Trust has been taking patients from elsewhere in the country to help relieve pressures at hospitals which have been struggling with demand for critical care beds. At the latest count on January 19, six of the 12 covid patients in ITU were out-of-area patients.
The report by Suzanne Tracey, chief executive of the RD&E, said: “The current clinical capacity at Nightingale Exeter has been able to support mutual aid requests from outside Devon and Cornwall. These requests have been coordinated by the System Medical and CEO group to assess the appropriate system priorities and management of the COVID response, and have been implemented by clinical and managerial leaders from across the system.”
At the meeting, she added: “We had a tough December, but based on our forecasted number for January, we have fared better in the number of patients we had, and given we are in a better position in terms of numbers and staffing, we are in a good position to give mutual aid to others across Devon and the surrounding counties.
“That is reassuring given the position across the country and we are playing our role to provide aid to other parts of the country harder pressed.
“The position remains tight as alongside those supporting from Covid, but have pressures from non-covid emergencies as well, but we are managing to do that ok, but it is a constantly moving position that requires constant oversight.”
With the support of the other local acute trusts and recent deployment of 25 medical assistants and 20 general duties military personnel, the Exeter Nightingale has activated plans to increase its capacity to 70 of its 116 beds, her report added, saying: “The current clinical capacity at Nightingale Exeter has been able to support mutual aid requests from outside Devon and Cornwall.”
The Nightingale Exeter is also working alongside the RDE to substantively recruit Healthcare Assistants, with approximately 26 expected into place over the next 2-3 weeks and further recruitment continuing.
“This will help facilitate a further increase in bed capacity to 94 beds which are likely to be available if required in the first week in February,” the documents says, adding that the oversight of the capacity increase has been system-led and ‘capacity has been utilised Plymouth, Torbay, Exeter and North Devon’.
She added: “We have been lucky to be allocated a deployment of military personnel so we can increased the number of beds across that to staff it. That has allowed us to take a further increase of bed capacity at the Nightingale to around 70 to 80 beds, with the ultimate capacity of around 116 and we are managing demand and capacity carefully on a daily basis.”