Over the last few days NHS hospitals have been at breaking point.
All across the country hospitals are being affected by flu, bad weather and an influx in patients.
Doctors and nurses are taking to social media sites to apologise to patients for the state of their departments with one described as in ‘third world conditions’ while others are calling for more help from the government.
In Portsmouth, the situation is no different with Queen Alexandra Hospital struggling under the pressure that comes with winter months.
The Cosham site has seen ambulances waiting five hours to hand over patients to the emergency department and desperate pleas from management for additional staff to go into work.
Patients have been waiting hours in A&E to be seen and when admitted, left on trolleys due to a lack of beds.
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT), which runs QA Hospital, has called on the public to only attend the hospital if urgent care is needed.
John Knighton, medical director for PHT, said while they have faced ‘significant pressure’ over Christmas, there is a plan to help them cope with additional demand in the coming days.
‘The emergency department has been under significant pressure in recent days,’ he said.
‘We have seen a rise in the levels of flu on top of the usual seasonal pressures, which together with an increase in staff sickness, created a very challenging situation.
‘The situation is improving but we are continuing to work with our partners across the health system and have a plan in place to deal with any on-going additional pressure we may face.
‘We would continue to urge the public to help us by only coming to the emergency department if your condition is serious or life threatening.’
As previously reported in The News QA Hospital has been one of 16 trusts put on the high alert level of black alert in the past week.
This means they are experiencing major pressures which could compromise patient care and could see them unable to deliver comprehensive care.
The alert comes following reports on The Sun newspaper’s website that on New Year’s Eve there were, at one point, 24 ambulances queuing at the Cosham emergency department with patients waiting five hours to be handed over.
The Sun also reported QA had declared an ‘internal incident’ which is more serious than black alert.
It was on the same day bosses at the hospital took to Twitter to ask staff to come into work and help with the surge of patients.
Speaking at the time Dr Knighton said: ‘There is lots of hard work going on to ensure we manage the demands we are currently facing which are likely to continue for the next few days.’
To help cope with the possible influx of patients in need of urgent care, QA Hospital had in October temporarily postponed all non-urgent surgery on bones and joints.
It did this as a precaution to what they expected to be a busy winter.
The NHS’ National Emergency Pressures Panel has now gone one step further after meeting on Tuesday and has recommended all NHS hospitals to defer all planned operations and routine outpatient appointments until next month.
While it is hoped this move will help ease demand on hospitals in the short-term, unions representing NHS doctors and nurses are calling for more drastic long-term solutions.