Gwent hospitals prepare for extra demand
3:32pm Saturday 7th December 2013 in News
DOZENS of new nurses are being recruited, and some elective surgery will be moved to sites unaffected by emergency pressures, to try to minimise the effects of a winter surge in demand at Gwent hospitals.
These are key measures among a package designed to minimise the cancellation of operations, prevent unnecessary admissions, and shorten waiting times in hard-pressed A&E units.
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, like its counterparts across Wales, has drawn up a comprehensive winter plan to try to pre-empt problems with excess demand, after difficulties experienced during January-March this year resulted in A&E units clogged with patients and more than 2,000 elective operations cancelled because beds earmarked for surgical patients were taken up with medical admissions.
Newly recruited registered nurses - 32 had been taken on by the end of October, and more posts have been advertised - have begun to take up their posts. They are key to the aim of providing up to 125 extra beds if required during the next three months, to cope with extra demand.
The extra beds are spread across Gwent, focusing on the Royal Gwent and St Woolos Hospitals in Newport, County Hospital in Griffithstown, Chepstow Hospital, and Nevill Hall in Abergavenny.
Some extra capapcity has been available for some weeks at the Royal Gwent and St Woolos, and the plan allows for more beds to pen from now until the end of March if necessary.
With elective surgery, the plan is to shift some operations to non-emergency sites, such as Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr and St Woolos (orthopaedics) where beds are not affected by surges in medical patients.
The case-mix of elective surgery will also be rebalanced for inpatient and day surgery work where appropriate, though priorities such as major cancer, orthopaedic and vascular operations, will remain.
Surgical assessment unit capacity at the Royal Gwent has been tripled, from three to nine trolleys, to help ease congestion in A&E.
Another measure involves social services care packages - previously decommissioned when patients presented at hospital - being kept in place for two further weeks to try to prevent delays in discharges.
These and other winter plan measures in Gwent will cost the health board almost £2.9 million, though this has been budgeted for, and extra money provided by the Welsh Government.
This is based on three months of increased activity, but if winter and demand continues, the cost will rise. it is estimated that a further three months of higher than expected demand could cost a further £1m.
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