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Operations cancelled as flu cases seize hospital beds

Operations cancelled as flu cases seize hospital beds

Wednesday 08 January 2020

Operations cancelled as flu cases seize hospital beds


Five operations were cancelled at the hospital yesterday after a spike in cases of flu and stomach bugs caused a shortage of hospital beds – despite additional beds being opened in advance.

Jersey’s General Hospital began operating at ‘amber status’ on Monday, with fewer than 10 acute beds left as emergency admissions continue to rise.

The status is below red and black escalation status, which would have seen all operations suspended, A&E beyond capacity and Intensive Care full, a government spokesperson said. 

They explained that the pressures were largely caused by flu-like and gastrointestinal illnesses, which are common at this time of year and can exacerbate chronic conditions. 

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Pictured: The pressures on the hospital have been caused by a mixture of flu-like illnesses and stomach bugs.

Among the measures put in place to deal with the annual pressure were the opening of 10 additional “expansion beds” – “contingency beds that are not routinely opened but are opened with additional staffing in order to support acute bed pressures”.

Six of these were acute beds, while it was decided last week that four beds normally in use by patients in need of rehabilitation, such as at Samarès, would be opened to in-patients. 

Hospital officials also explained that, following the amber alert, they were now increasing consultant-led ward rounds and prioritising diagnostics and treatment planning to help expedite discharges.

The pressures, they said, had been largely anticipated and followed the trend in the UK, emphasising that Jersey was in a better position. 

But one patient has raised concerns over whether the preparations put in place were enough, after having her hip replacement operation cancelled at the last-minute.

Julia-Ann Winn (33) told Express she came to hospital for the surgery at 08:00 yesterday, but was only told of the cancellation at 11:30 and is so far yet to receive a new date.

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Pictured: Julia-Anne Winn, who had her hip replacement operation cancelled.

“It’s very disappointing for patients, like myself. I’ve got a full-time job, and have to go back to my employer and explain I don’t know when I’ll be fit to return to work. I’ve also pretty much not been able to walk since August, I can’t drive,” she said, adding that she may now have to miss a friend’s wedding off-island as a result. 

She said that the ward manager, nurses and consultant had been “fantastic” at keeping her informed, and apologised for the inconvenience, but when she asked to speak to management about the issue, “they refused to come down”. 

“I feel so sorry or the staff and other patients, as they are clearly under an immense amount of pressure... This is clearly not something that has just happened. Everybody is fully aware at this time of year that flu is a problem – why is there not a back-up plan? 

“…And there’s a knock-on effect. If it’s today’s surgeries [being cancelled], it may be tomorrow’s surgeries and the day after. Then everybody else that works in that hospital is going to have a nightmare to deal with it.”

“This is the kind of stuff you read about the NHS,” she later added.

Health officials denied that this was the case, claiming that Jersey “by comparison is… operating in a more efficient manner”.

They said that the operations cancelled on Tuesday were a mix of public and private patients, adding: “We have been able to maintain our Day Surgery Unit and urgent operations today and envisage this will remain the case throughout the week. Again, it should be noted that this position is in stark contrast to the UK position where routine operations are expected to be cancelled for the remainder of the winter pressures period.”

Islanders not experiencing a genuine medical emergency is now being urged to avoid the Emergency Department. 

Anyone who requires non-emergency treatment or advice is instead advised to call the Out Of Hours GP via the Hospital switchboard on 442000.

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