‘Black alert’ is lifted but fears over A&E go on

The  ''QA Hospital Accident and emergency entrance.
The ''QA Hospital Accident and emergency entrance.
Eric and Maureen Chivers from Emsworth. Eric is heaping praise on the NHS for the superb teatment he recieved when he was in hospital with a serious illness     'Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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THE ‘black alert’ status put on A&E services has been described as ‘a serious cause for concern’.

It was in place for six days but finally lifted yesterday.

It was declared due to a shortage of A&E beds in Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

At its peak more than 100 patients were waiting to be seen in the department.

Simon Haill, manager of patient support group Portsmouth Healthwatch, said: ‘This is a real concern and reflects what people have been worried about.

‘It’s something the local health system needs to grip on as this is an ongoing issue which is a real concern and a solution needs to be found.’

A black alert is ‘when all actions have failed to contain service pressure and the local health economy is unable to deliver comprehensive emergency care’.

The Clinical Commissioning Group, which pays for health services, said this alert was caused by the hospital not having enough A&E beds to cope with high numbers of people being admitted. This was despite an additional 64 beds being used for urgent care and elective operations being cancelled so these beds could be used.

The CCG said it is rare for a health system to be put on black alert and in the past two years it has only been used ‘a handful of times’ and is usually in place for less than 48 hours.

Measures put in place to bring down patient numbers include having extra staff, opening more beds in community places and making sure people have the right support to be treated at home.

Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, said: ‘It’s very disappointing a black alert status was placed.

‘I know QA, along with the commissioners, other health providers and local authorities are working together to resolve this. It’s something I will be keeping my eye on to see how things change.’