NHS BOSSES are 'confident' months of planning will spare patients winter misery in, admitting they were under prepared last year.
At a health overview and scrutiny panel yesterday members heard proposals to make sure QA Hospital in Cosham runs as smoothly as possible this winter, with additional beds, an extra CT scanner and plans to reduce delays in place.
The scheme, in partnership with all the NHS Trusts and local authorities across Portsmouth and south east Hampshire, also aims to keep bed occupancy down to 92 per cent for contingency.
Paul Bostock, delivery director for Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, explained why the steps had been taken. Speaking to the panel he said: 'We have been planning for winter since about March this year. We recognised that we started planning a bit late last year.
'The other difference with the strategy this year is that it's not just Portsmouth hospitals working on this. We thought we could manage on our own last time and we really couldn't.
'I'm not saying this plan will make the winter perfect, but it will be better than before.'
Members were buoyed by the proposals. Councillor Philip Raffaelli, from Gosport Borough Council, said: 'Last year we were the worst performing in the whole of England, this has got to be better.
'And having made this wonderful effort of coordination we need to make sure that doesn't stop.'
Portsmouth Cllr Steve Weymss added: 'I am greatly encouraged by what I have heard. Last winter sounded like fire fighting and the fire was getting out of control.
'It does sound to me like we've put in place things that will lead to a far better winter. It's not going to be perfect but for me I am confident.'
His colleague, Cllr Leo Madden, was concerned about the numbers of patients who had their surgeries cancelled last year as a result of the influx of others needing medical attention. 'We all appreciate winter is an exceptional period,' he said.
'I must say I have great sympathy for the people who had elective surgery cancelled the day before. I hope this plan will make sure this won't happen again.'
Mr Bostock said: 'Our plan is for this not to happen. I absolutely appreciate this is a terrible experience for patients. The plan is for no medical patients to take the beds of surgery patients.'
Part of the winter provision will also include work to reduce the risks of flu.
Last winter QA Hospital admitted more than 500 patients due to flu. At its worst, there were 76 patients with flu requiring treatment at the same time.