Patients queue outside Northampton General Hospital A&E as demand hits unprecedented levels

Staff build shelter and give out water as people are forced to wait in extreme heat

Friday, 15th July 2022, 3:14 pm

Northampton General Hospital staff are having to build shelter and give out water as patients queue in rising temperatures OUTSIDE Accident & Emergency.

Photos on social media showed dozens lined up alongside ambulances and standing on a service road waiting to be seen on Thursday (July 14).

More posts claimed there was a similar situation at NGH earlier in the week.

Patients are having to queue outside A&E at NGH as demand for hospital services reaches "unprecedented levels"

A Met Office red extreme heat alert has been issued with warnings of temperatures up to 40°C on Monday and Tuesday bringing a “danger to life”.

The hospital says “unprecedented demand” and an increase in Covid cases is limiting capacity inside A&E, leading to queues outside.

A spokesman said: “We are seeing a very high demand for our emergency and urgent care services and are seeing unprecedented numbers of attendances to our Emergency Department daily.

“Our teams are working incredibly hard to provide high quality care for all of our patients, seeing them as quickly as they can.

“Unfortunately, as we only have limited space in the department and due to increasing Covid cases in our hospital, sometimes queues will extend to outside of the department.

“Our team will always ensure patients are seen in priority order and those needing urgent care will move into the department sooner.

“We are providing water and installing shelter for those who are waiting to be seen during the hot weather.

“Our Emergency Department is for life threatening illnesses or injuries only.

“If your condition is not life threatening, please use other services for care. NHS 111 online or the NHS 111 phone line can help to advise on the most appropriate place for care locally, including out of hours services.”

Ironically, the photos emerged after a tweet from the hospital about keeping cool in the hot weather.

It advised people “try to stay in the shade, especially between 11am-3pm”.

NHS chiefs across the country are pleading with the public to only call 999 or visit A&E as a last resort.

East Midlands Ambulance Service says the public needs to “take responsibility for keeping themselves well during the hot weather” to keep crews free to attend the most seriously ill.

At NGH, a spokesman added: “Our Emergency Department is for life-threatening illnesses or injuries only.

“If your condition is not life threatening, please use other services for care. NHS 111 online or the NHS 111 phone line can help to advise on the most appropriate place for care locally, including out of hours services.”

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NGH this week reintroduced mask-wearing rules for staff, patients and visitors in response to more Covid patients being admitted.

Numbers of Covid-19 patients occupying beds in the two hospitals dropped as low as 15 in May.

But latest figures showed 136 patients needing treatment for the virus — 68 each at NGH and KGH — while the number staff being forced off work after testing positive or having to isolate is the highest since since February.

How to keep cool in extreme heat

Public Health Northamptonshire has these tips for safe during three days of extreme heat forecast for the county:

■ Look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated

■ Stay hydrated, take water with you if you are out and about

■ Avoid travelling at peak times particularly with children, especially babies, or the elderly. Ensure you have enough water with you to cope with delays

■ Stay out of the sun when UV rays are strongest between 11am and 3pm

■ If you need to go out, stay in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat

■ Close curtains in rooms facing the sun. Remember, it could be cooler outdoors than indoors

■ Never leave anyone in a parked closed vehicle – especially not animals, children or babies

■ Avoid alcohol, it dehydrates you

■ Watch out around open water, unexpected cold or strong currents can catch out even experienced swimmers. Better to swim safely at one of the county’s organised events.