Hospitals prepare for high winter demand

The NHS trust which manages Sidmouth and Ottery hospitals has announced measures to make sure its services stand up to the tests of winter.

Higher demand for services is expected so there will be extra beds at peak times and increased ward rounds to assist with prompt discharge.

The Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, which manages hospitals across East Devon, has also revealed extra rapid response and community staff will be on duty to support people in their own homes, avoid admissions and support discharges from hospital.

It also staged an emergency planning exercise, dubbed ‘Winter Wonderland’, at the end of November to test its resilience and how it would prioritise services in the event of severe weather.

Kate Lyons, the trust’s director of operations, said: “The colder weather at this time of year always brings an increase in health problems, including respiratory illness, flu, norovirus and injuries caused by falls or slips.

“We have robust plans in place to cope with the extra pressure this puts on our acute, community and specialist services, and to deal with severe weather if it comes.”

She said the priorities are to ensure critical services operate as normal in hospitals and avoiding unnecessary admissions, as well as helping vulnerable patients at home prepare for winter.