Barnsley Hospital is at breaking point as more than 300 patients present to its emergency department every day, according to internal emails seen by The independent.
The South Yorkshire hospital was forced to declare OPEL 4 status – in reference to the ‘level of escalating operational pressures’ – on Tuesday as it struggled to find beds. The “black alert” is the highest and is issued when a hospital “is struggling or unable to provide comprehensive care” and patient safety is threatened.
An email to staff warned of the already “difficult enough” bed position, with more than 40 emergency room patients, 15 of whom were waiting for a bed.
This had escalated to 80 patients waiting in the emergency department in the evening, including 20 waiting for medical beds that were not available.
The rise in patient numbers is due to demand for A&E disease rather than Covid, The independent understands.
The hospital’s acute care unit would also be full on Tuesday morning, with 12 emergency room patients awaiting placement and only two beds available in the “medical box spring”.
An update later today told staff that the hospital will be upgrading to OPEL 4 status as the trust is “under severe pressure from the flow of emergency patients in and through the hospital.”
Staff were encouraged to “do everything possible” to free up beds, including promptly reviewing all hospital patients and “encouraging medical teams to facilitate discharge”.
A&E doctors have revealed that in some units, patients wait up to nine hours to be seen, with overall numbers up 50% from pre-pandemic levels.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine warned the situation was very serious and emergency departments were overwhelmed.
At least 30 hospitals across England saw record levels of patients in June, stretching from Exeter and Plymouth in the south to hospitals in Middlesbrough, Manchester and elsewhere in the north of England.
On Tuesday, North Middlesex Hospital in north London declared an internal incident after 700 patients visited its A&E ward – the highest level since January 2020, when 684 were registered in a single day.
The Leicester University Hospitals Trust also recorded its busiest day in history on Tuesday, with 925 patients, as did the North Midlands University Hospitals Trust in Stoke, which saw 866 patients.
At the Birmingham University Hospitals Trust, which operates three A&E departments in the region, attendance has fallen from an average of around 900 per day in December 2019 to 1,350 this month.