A SHIFT in weather has seen a hospital placed on black alert this week as attendances in A&E rise.
Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, had seen an improvement in its emergency department over the summer.
There is a long way to go through winter so it is a bit of a concern that we are at this point already.Councillor Luke Stubbs
But this week, as the weather becomes colder, the site has seen an increase in frail and elderly patients needing urgent care.
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT), which runs QA, is urging people to choose wisely when it comes to their healthcare.
Councillor Luke Stubbs, deputy leader at Portsmouth City Council and cabinet member of adult social care and public health, said it was a concern.
‘The hospital being on a heightened state of alert reflects the difficulties it is having coping with the patient numbers it’s had,’ he said.
‘There is a long way to go through winter so it is a bit of a concern that we are at this point already.
‘But I know that changes have been put in place with the hospital to improve the emergency department but also other aspects within the hospital.’
As previously reported in The News, in July the number of patients waiting longer than 30 minutes and 60 minutes in an ambulance to be handed over to A&E staff had dramatically dropped since April.
Cllr Stubbs added: ‘There have been some positives in recent months.
‘Some of the problems have retracted but obviously the cold weather does lead to an increase in hospital admissions, particularly for older people.’
A spokeswoman for PHT said it is working with its partners to manage the demand at the emergency department.
‘We are seeing a sharp increase in our numbers of attendances as we move towards winter,’ she said.
‘This increase, particularly in the numbers of very sick, frail and elderly patients requiring urgent care, has resulted in an extremely high demand on our emergency department and on our wards.
‘We are working closely with our partners across the healthcare system to ensure that patients are safely managed and to reduce the demand on A&E.
‘We are also urging people to choose well in their choice of healthcare.
‘For example, non-emergency medical complaints can frequently be treated by your GP or through discussion with a pharmacy.
‘You can call 111 if you feel unwell out of hours and there are also minor injury units available if your injury is not serious.
‘This will allow our emergency department staff to concentrate on people with serious, life-threatening conditions and will save a potential long wait.’
St Mary’s NHS treatment centre, on Milton Road, is open from 8am until 9.15pm on weekdays and 8am until 10pm on weekends while in Gosport, the minor injuries unit at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, on Bury Road, is open from 8am until 9pm every day.