Stoke & Staffordshire

Staffordshire hospital 'prepared' for extra A&E demand

A Staffordshire hospital's A&E department will be able to cope with the demand from extra patients, a hospital spokesman has said.

The University Hospital of North Staffordshire (UHNS) is expected to take more patients following Stafford's temporary night closure of A&E.

UHNS has been told to expect six extra ambulance transfers a night, five of which will need a bed.

A lead consultant said they were prepared for twice that figure.

The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust recently approved a three-month closure of A&E at Stafford Hospital from 22:00 until 08:00, starting on 1 December.

'Extra staff'

Trust chief executive Lynn Hill-Tout has said the closure would allow resources to be focused on the daytime and would improve "quality of care".

She added that it would also allow a period for "intense staff development" after the A&E unit was last month issued with a formal warning because inspectors had found a lack of suitably qualified or trained nursing staff on duty during an unannounced visit.

Magnus Harrison, from UHNS, admitted he was concerned that ambulance transfers could begin two hours earlier than 22:00, in effect creating a 12-hour closure.

"We'll cope with it in the emergency department because we'll put extra staff on for 12 extra patients by ambulance and then probably the same again walk-in. That's 24 hours of doctor time that we'll put into the department," he said.

"They're not substantive posts. We'll put doctors in on an ad hoc basis, but every night initially.

"They won't have a full-time contract so we can back off as we need to.

"It's a planned closure for three months. Realistically it's going to be for longer than that, but if we start of with three months initially we'll staff for those three months."

Demand will also be met at at hospitals in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Burton.

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