Yorkshire hospital put on high alert as boss says 'only come to the A&E if you really need to'

The interim chief executive at a Yorkshire hospital has asked the public to only use health services “if you really need to”, as the hospital declared an  “opel four” status this week.

Rotherham Hospital has been moved to the opel four alert level

Dr Richard Jenkins, Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust’s interim chief executive said that the trust has been under “intense operational pressure.”

During a meeting of the trust’s board of directors today (September 10), Dr Jenkins added that “this morning we’re starting in a much better state than we have in recent days”, but he trust will remain in opel four until early next week.

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Opel four, which means operations pressure escalation levels, is used by the NHS to measure the demand that a hospital is under.

Opel four is the highest escalation level, and means that the hospital is “unable to deliver comprehensive care” and patient safety is at risk.

A report to the board states that the Trust has seen an increase in Covid-19 positive cases recently, with the number of positive cases in the community also increasing “substantially”.

The report noted a ‘progressive and worrying increase’ of COVID-19 cases in the over 65s. As of September 2, the trust had 75 inpatients with COVID – 17 per cent of the bed base and the “highest rate nationally”.

The report adds that the hospitals’ Urgent and Emergency Care Centre continues to see high volumes of activity, and the ambulance service is seeing a “record numbers of emergencies”.

“Staff absence through the effects of the pandemic coupled with the seasonal holiday period and the August changeover of medical staff have compounded the challenges,” the report states.

In a plea to the public, Dr Jenkins asked that members of the public reduce the risk of covid-19 transmission, and urged people to have the vaccine.

“While our health services are under pressure, please do only use them if you really need to, Dr Jenkins added.

“This will allow us to focus on those who need our help the most. Many common illnesses and ailments can be effectively treated at home using over-the-counter products from your local pharmacy.

“If you think you need medical help but are unsure the best place to go, contact NHS 111 by phone or online.

“Depending on your needs, a GP or the hospital (including the Urgent and Emergency Care Centre) may not be the best place for you. If you do need urgent or emergency medical attention, we are here for you.

“Our colleagues have been working tirelessly through these unprecedented circumstances, so please treat them the way you would like to be treated.”