Cornwall

Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust on 'black alert'

Emergency Department
Image caption A black alert is the highest level of alert and means hospital services are unable to cope with demand

A hospital trust in Cornwall has declared a "black alert" after "a very pressured few days".

The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) said it was "already very full" and could "only admit" people who needed "critical care".

Kathy Byrne, chief executive of RCHT, said 126 ambulances arrived on Thursday which was at least 30 more than usual.

Ms Byrne said there were "pressures on all parts of the system".

Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth, described the status as "heartbreaking".

'Free up beds'

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust was ranked among the worst in the country for the number of days lost because of delays in discharging patients by a report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee released earlier.

The hospital ranked 10th nationally and the review found there were 17,000 delayed discharges from March 2015 to February 2016.

Ms Byrne said: "In any one time as much as 12 percent of beds is taken up by people no longer requiring medical care as there is not a satisfactory onward care for them to go to.

"There are pressures on all parts of the system. We need to only admit people who need critical care, we are hoping to free up beds to continue to improve the flow of the system.

"Today's report highlights how complex the system has become."

What is a black alert?

  • The NHS uses a national internal alert system based on the colours green, amber, red and black to rank how busy a local health and social care system is
  • Black alert status occurs when a hospital cannot cope with the number of people coming into the accident and emergency department because not enough people are being discharged
  • It effectively means the hospital does not have enough bed capacity to cope
Image caption Altogether 126 ambulances arrived at the Royal Cornwall Hospital on Thursday which was at least 30 more than usual

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