Patients diverted to Harrogate as NHS struggles in winter pressures

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Patients from areas on the west side of York are being redirected to Harrogate in a bid to help relieve winter pressures within the NHS.

Over the Christmas and New Year period Harrogate District Hospital was forced to open additional beds to cope with the number of seriously unwell patients being admitted.

But in a bid to relieve ‘challenging’ pressure on hospitals in Scarborough and York, Harrogate has agreed to take diverts from areas on the west side of York until March.

Mike Forster, Ops Director for Long Term and Unscheduled Care at HDFT, said: “York have really been pressured and specifically Scarborough as well, so we have been supporting York this week by taking diverts from them.

“They have had a really challenging time and they have had long waits in their Emergency Departments.

“The NHS is one organisation so we need to support each other. If we have the ability to help it doesn’t seem right for someone to be waiting on an ambulance elsewhere.”

But the winter period hasn’t been easy in Harrogate either - Mr Forster said the winter months increase the prevalence of respiratory illnesses and heart attacks, and with a series of bank holidays and weekends falling closely together, other health services aren’t as readily available over Christmas.

He said: “We have seen a much higher level of patients that are acutely unwell.

“This year we have seen a lot more patients that we have had to admit and that has put strain on our beds. Looking back on last year it has been significantly busier.”

Mr Forster said that an average of about 120 patients are seen in Harrogate’s Emergency Department every 24 hours.

But at times over Christmas and New Year that average reached over 160 patients in 24 hours.

On a normal week the hospital admits an average of about 40 patients a day - but average admissions reached 60 a day this festive season.

The NHS standard expectation is that 95 per cent of patients must be seen and discharged or admitted within four hours.

In Harrogate that percentage was just below 78 at the start of this month, but staff had been planning their response to the winter pressures for three months leading up to Christmas, and within the week the Trust were back on top of the target.

Please consider all your health care options: pharmacies, NHS 111, your GP surgery, and self-care. The Emergency Department should only be visited in the case of a genuine emergency.

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