Dorset County Hospital A&E enduring 'unprecedented' demand

Dorset County Hospital A&E enduring 'unprecedented' demand

Published by The Wessex FM News Team at 10:01am 4th September 2019.

Its chief executive Patricia Miller said the shortage of beds is having a knock-on effect on other areas:

  • many surgery cases are being cancelled, sometimes on the day
  • a shortage of beds is now common
  • the level of emergency admissions have seldom dropped since the traditional peak in the winter
  • staff are 'under constant pressure, leaving them tired and stressed'

This is despite the £500K a month agency staff at the hospital.

Where are the emergency admissions coming from?

  • The biggest increases have been in children under four and adults over 65
  • There's been a bigger than expected demand overall from Weymouth & Portland and West Dorset

A 'huge worry for patient care and staff' ahead of another busy winter

Chair of governors Mark Addison said:

"The whole hospital has been under huge pressure since last winter. There has hardly been a let up."

Chief executive Patricia Miller admitted that spending on agency staff was now exceeding the growth levels anticipated in the budget but said that the concerns were not wholly financial: 

"My biggest concern is for staff resilience because they're tired."

She added that bed spaces were now often to be counted in negative numbers, with a shortage of 15 beds now considered to be a relatively low amount: 

"There are now no more beds to open unless we stop doing day surgery, and we don't want to do that."

What does this mean for patients?

Ms Miller said that the inevitable consequence was a growth in waiting lists for elective surgery and said that already many operations were being cancelled on the day, or the day before, because of the need for emergency cases.

What's being done to support staff?

  • Extra support is being offered through welfare programmes 
  • DCH is looking to boost morale by making improvements to rest room areas and offering yoga sessions.

By Trevor Bevins, local democracy reporter