It’s just after New Year, flu is spreading at an alarming rate in the local community and the hospital is almost at full capacity. A letter then arrives from NHS Officials ordering the trust to cancel all non-urgent procedures such as outpatient clinics and operations.
But was it the right thing to do?
The hospitals around us were bursting at the seams, diverting patients to us on an almost regular basis. Our emergency department was persistently full or over-spilling but less patients required admission, so at this point the trust still had some flexibility for inpatient beds.
Hospital management invited the clinical directors (CDs- sorry acronym) from all departments to discuss the situation and make an action plan. With the worst weekend on record predicted across the country the CDs were asked;
- What do you need to keep your staff and patients’ safe?
Bit of a broad question I thought… but the responses started to come out:
‘We need an extra junior doctor on Saturday’ ‘I want to cancel all Friday afternoon clinics’ ‘Can we borrow staff from surgery that won’t be doing urgent operations?’
Each request was noted. Applications for more staff and overtime were sent out. The clinicians were in control and knew that management supported them fully. The corporate teams cleared their diaries and spent time supporting the front line staff by transporting samples and patients across the hospital. The local CCG visited the trust and asked what they could do to help to relieve the pressure on the system, a pleasant reminder that we’re all in it together. The trusts reaction was a clear example of teamwork, reassuring in a time where communication was the only way to prepare for the impact the weekend would bring.
With only 6 months experience in my operational role, I do think it was the right decision for NHS officials to take, especially considering the widespread pressure across the country. However, the queue of patients waiting for clinics and operations are suffering the delay and the next big challenge is to safely bring those waiting lists back to where they were before.