Hampshire NHS services facing 'overwhelming' demand amid Strep A outbreak - with most hospital beds full

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HEALTH services across Hampshire are facing their most difficult winter on record amid ‘significant’ pressure and a huge rise in demand, with almost every hospital bed across the county occupied.

Patients are warned that they face delays and postponed appointments amid the ‘urgent and emergency’ demand, according to health authorities.

Over the last week, the area’s health services have faced more than 38,000 urgent appointments at GPs, urgent treatment centres, and A&E departments.

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GP practices are experiencing three times their usual level of demand in relation to the outbreak of Group A strep, which is currently four times higher than normal among children aged between one and four nationwide, according to government figures.

Ambulances pictured outside A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Picture: Habibur RahmanAmbulances pictured outside A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Picture: Habibur Rahman
Ambulances pictured outside A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Amid the soaring demand, almost every bed in hospitals across Hampshire and Isle of Wight is occupied by a patient needing care.

To provide additional beds, Shearwater – a care home in Southsea run by Portsmouth City Council - has turned over a floor for hospital patients requiring a low level of care, according to council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It provides that extra level of support.

‘But I think the NHS is coming apart at the seams.

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‘I think, as with so many things, ministers are cut off from the reality on the ground. That’s not a party political issue.

‘I think we should be very grateful to everyone who works in the NHS and the care system - not just at this time of year, but all year round.’

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Dr Derek Sandeman, chief medical officer at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, said that ‘this winter feels the most difficult the NHS has faced’.

He said: ‘You will have heard on the news that this winter feels the most difficult the NHS has faced and that is the experience of colleagues working in our system.

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‘I want to publicly thank them for stepping up to try and meet the demands which at times have felt overwhelming.

‘Unfortunately, due to the current situation we may need to postpone some appointments to meet this urgent and emergency demand.

‘We need to ask for your help in being understanding of this as well as using sites such as Healthier Together, which provides advice and guidance for pregnant women, parents and guardians of children and young people aged up to 18 and NHS.uk to get advice on common conditions that don’t necessarily require clinical support.’

Now health officials have issued an emergency plea for residents to be mindful of the demand when seeking medical help and advice.

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The chief medical officer apologised for the 'the added frustration’ patients face from delays and postponements.

He said: ‘I know that this can make it hard for you to find the care you need and are being asked to wait longer than any of us would like.'