Health boss warns patient services could be suspended in Derbyshire as pressure builds on NHS

Health leaders in Derbyshire say all services other than the most urgent surgeries may have to be suspended soon due to rising pressure on the system.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 4:00 pm

Dr Avi Bhatia, chair of the Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said that while he does not want anybody to have treatment delayed, this may be “inevitable”.

He said this was to ensure staffing and services to support those in most urgent need was maintained.

Dr Bhatia, who is also a GP at Moir Medical Centre, in Long Eaton, said the expected increases in hospitalisations and staff absence is of “great concern” and that “difficult decisions will be required” as a result.

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A Derbyshire health boss has called the current level of pressure “the most challenging in memory”.

He wrote in a board report to be discussed this week: “Given that our system has already been stretched to the limit in maintaining safe care, it is expected that we will need to take some additional and less favourable actions to ensure we are able to continue to care for the poorliest patients.

“This will include discussions about whether we are able to continue to deliver anything other than the most urgent level of surgery during this period, against a backdrop of already challenging waiting lists following the delays in surgery caused by the pandemic so far.

“We may need to temporarily close some services to ensure that we can shore up critical departments such as emergency departments, intensive care units, maternity services and cancer operating theatres.

“It will also likely mean that patients will not receive the same package of community care that they would have expected to receive, including community nursing support, therapy support and the availability of adult care workers, which will place an increasingly heavy reliance upon families and friends to support care.”

This comes after Gavin Boyle, chief executive of the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, said last week that the organisation expects to have to suspend elective care within the following 10 days.

Sunday, January 16 would mark 10 days since that expectation was announced.

Dr Bhatia called the current level of pressure “the most challenging in memory”.

Meanwhile, Dr Chris Clayton, chief executive officer of the CCG, said rising staff absence was “the main challenge to service delivery”.

He wrote in this week’s trust reports: “In both health and social care we have the estate and the facilities to meet much of the demand, but we are challenged in sustaining the staffing levels required to use it fully.

“Supporting staff to be tested and return to work is a priority; and we should be following the Government’s recent guidance on testing and shortened isolation periods to help the overall position.

“The spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant across our communities has not yet resulted in the increased use of our Intensive Care Services but general admissions to our hospitals with Covid-19 are increasing, together with an increase in care activity and requirements in our community-based services.”

Dr Clayton wrote: “The message to local citizens is repeated; please continue to use services where you have an urgent health need and we will make sure you are cared for.

“Anyone in doubt about what to do should visit NHS 111 online to check symptoms or call NHS 111 for further advice.”