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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust declares 'critical incident' for a day

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THE NHS trust responsible for the Christchurch, Royal Bournemouth and Poole hospitals declared a "critical incident" on Wednesday, meaning they could not function as normal amid the Omicron Covid-19 surge.

The University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust said the pressure of limited beds and staff being sick or self-isolating led to some elective operations being cancelled.

The status lasted just a day, however, and was rescinded yesterday (Thursday). But it meant that briefly it was considered by the trust that the hospitals may not be "the most appropriate setting for our patients".

The Royal Bournemouth Hospital
The Royal Bournemouth Hospital

It also warned that another "critical incident" might be called again if the situation worsens.

The trust said there had been "concerted pressure" on urgent care, with services stretched and waiting times affected.

A spokesperson said on Wednesday: "University Hospitals Dorset has declared a critical incident due to the very limited number of beds available and the high number of staff who are off work either isolating or symptomatic with Covid-19.

"This critical incident is an indication of the serious pressure we are facing and demonstrates how we are taking immediate steps to ensure we can still provide our critical services.

"We are working extremely hard to ensure our patients are kept safe."

The trust said later it had monitored the situation and stood down the critical status.

However, it did so with a warning that it faced challenges ahead, stating yesterday: "The group considered whether we were able to maintain critical services over the next period and concluded that we had robust plans in place to maintain these services.

"However, our hospitals remain very busy and the number of staff we have self-isolating and symptomatic are also still high."

It went on: "We anticipate that we have some very difficult weeks ahead of us and might need to go back into critical incident to help us ensure we can still provide our critical services.

"Thank you to all colleagues and our external partners for your hard work and support to help improve the situation."

This past week it was reported up to 20 trusts had at one point declared a "critical incident", with senior staff saying urgent operations – such as for heart and cancer patients – were having to be cancelled due to staff shortages.

(Main picture: CMR Surgical)

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