WINTER pressures are putting extra stress on hospital staff in south Warwickshire.
But bosses at South Warwickshire Foundation Trust are confident they have plans in place to deal with the increased pressure and have called on residents to help them through.
There has been ‘anxiety’ among staff about how they would cope during December and January when the health service historically sees an influx of patients. Flu, colds, and winter vomiting bug Norovirus put added strain on the NHS throughout the colder months.
Trust bosses – which runs hospitals in Warwick, Stratford, Leamington and Shipston – said plans were in place including opening extra wards and holding daily safety meetings.
And while struggling to employ nurses is an issue nationally, the trust is using volunteer staff, nursing students and registered nurses usually employed in other roles to address the problem throughout winter.
A hospital spokeswoman said: “It felt like winter was already upon us due to the activity levels. This caused anxiety with staff about how they would cope going forward.
“Advances in care mean more people are living longer and often with complex needs. While these advances are to be celebrated, it means more people requiring support from both health and social care services and greater pressure on those systems.
“Providing enough staff to meet predicted demand for our services will remain challenging. Nurse staffing is a challenge and this has been further compounded by the cessation of the nurse training bursary.
“The challenge gets more difficult at times of high pressure within the NHS when extra capacity wards are open or high patient demands increase stress on staff.
“We prepare a robust staffing plan for the winter months to minimise risks to patients or adverse impact on staff wellbeing during times of high demand. This includes opening extra capacity beds and recruiting additional volunteers to support the inpatient ward areas.”
The trust is also aiming to cut down on the number of patients coming through its doors by working with health and social care services to deliver more care outside the hospital.
But it is also calling on people to also do their bit and think twice about whether they need to attend accident and emergency.
They also request people not to visit if they are feeling unwell.
A health advice line is open at all times by calling 111, and pharmacies can provide advice for minor injuries or illnesses.
The trust spokeswoman added: “There are alternative sources of support for people in the community.
“Hospitals can be busy with people needing urgent and emergency care – this can mean a long wait for non-urgent conditions.”