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High demand on hospital care

The NHS across South Devon and Torbay is continuing to face extremely high demand on its services, with large numbers of very sick people needing hospital care or seeking treatment at A&E.

Torbay Hospital has already brought in extra staff and opened 21 more beds. As of Thursday, it had 30 people waiting to be discharged to community hospitals, which are also extremely busy. Nurses at community hospitals are caring for significant numbers of frail, older people. Some patients also need more rehabilitation before they are able to go home.

Wherever possible, the community hospitals have made extra beds available, but are now facing difficulties making sure there are enough staff to care for the extra patients. From today, as part of an urgent need to create extra capacity, nine beds at Bovey Tracey will be temporarily moved to Newton Abbot, so that the greatest possible number of beds can be provided with the staff available. Bovey Tracey Hospital will reopen as soon as the current pressures subside, which under current forecasts will be within two or three weeks.

Dr Adam Morris, medical director at Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust, said: “We are creating the central point for care at Newton Abbot to create some capacity in the system when things are already very tight. Newton Abbot is able to provide a greater range of services such as x-ray, and by having more patients in one place, we can make the very best use of our staff in safely caring for the greatest possible number of patients.”

South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group, which organises healthcare across the area, said the NHS locally had been coping with prolonged pressure on services, and there had been little let-up since mid-December.

Dr Mike Haugh, lead for urgent care, said: “Staff in all parts of system have been working incredibly hard and going the extra mile to make sure that patients get the care they need. But we must once again ask people to use A&E only for life-threatening illnesses and emergencies, especially over the coming weekend when we expect the pressure to continue.”