NHS Group’s Senior Doctor Appeals to the Public to Help Ease Unprecedented Demand across Local Healthcare System

26 July 2021

Senior doctors from four A&E departments and an Urgent Care Centre (UCC) run by the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA) are asking the public to think carefully before attending A&E if not an emergency and consider which health service to use, as its local hospitals experience unprecedented demand. 

The number of people attending the Group’s three emergency departments in Salford, Oldham and Bury and the UCC in Rochdale has increased significantly over the last few days due to system wide pressures and demand where many people could instead self-care or get advice from their local pharmacy or NHS111.

At its monthly Board meeting today, held in public, Chief Executive Raj Jain explained the situation the group’s staff are currently facing: “In terms of Urgent Care, including primary care, community services, our Emergency Departments or our supporting wards and departments, we are now seeing unprecedented numbers coming to our front doors for urgent treatment. We are experiencing levels of congestion which means we as a Board will need to do what we can and take immediate and decisive action to mitigate this and help relieve some of this pressure for staff and our teams, and ultimately for our patients and service users.

“On top of this we have a high number of critically ill patients who need to have their treatment or surgery urgently. This includes our cancer patients and other patients who remain our priority.” 

The current pressures on the service are a result of a number of factors, including urgent care demand, staffing levels and the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic.

The NCA’s Board heard at their meeting that the organisation has stood up the necessary internal operational response levels across the organisation and are implementing business continuity plans to ensure patient safety remains priority.

Public asked to help

Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Medical Officer Dr Chris Brookes, who is also an emergency consultant, has reiterated the need for the public to

chris brookes_.jpg
Dr Chris Brookes, Deputy Chief Executive &
Chief Medical Officer,
Northern Care Alliance NHS Group

choose the right service and enable patients who have the most serious conditions to be able to access the care they need.

He said: “As evidenced in many other parts of the region and across the country we are currently experiencing severe and immense system pressures across our hospital sites, community services and local healthcare systems in Salford, Bury, Oldham and Rochdale. In partnership with colleagues and partners across our local healthcare systems and more widely in Greater Manchester we are currently doing everything we can to support our teams and ensure our patients are receiving safe and appropriate care.

“At the same time as these immense, unparalleled pressures we have some significant staffing pressures we are grappling with too. This is due to a number of factors. Although our NCA group is one of the best staffed organisations in GM in terms of vacancy levels and staff turnover, despite this, we are currently struggling with staff sickness and staff isolation although we expect this to be improved with the recent changes to guidance.

“We would ask the public that anyone considering visiting A&E who isn’t a genuine emergency case to think carefully before doing so and, where appropriate, to please seek information and help through NHS 111 and our local pharmacy networks who are there if you need immediate care that is not life threatening. Thank you for your support.”

The NCA continues to work with its local healthcare system partners including primary care, social care, care home and community care to support people at home to avoid unnecessary attendance to hospital and ensure safe and timely discharge.

The group’s 20,000 staff are currently being supported through a number of different ways, including the SCARF health and wellbeing programme as well as direct support from the Board and Executive who pledged this morning to listen to their feedback and continue to support them, in a bid to ensure that immediate issues are resolved and support is deployed where it’s most needed.

Dr Brookes added: “We remain immensely proud of our NCA workforce (our NCA Family) and thank them for everything they are doing during this period of severe pressure on the system.”

NHS 111 online is also available at 111.nhs.uk, where people can access online help and advice, so don’t forget to use this service wherever possible.

A&E is still there for people who need it for example if you are suffering from severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, bleeding you can’t stop, possible broken bones or loss of consciousness.


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