Cornwall health and care system under 'ongoing extreme' demand
Cornwall health and care sys...
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Cornwall health and care system under 'ongoing extreme' demand

18 August 2021
2 min.
Cornwall health and care system under 'ongoing extreme' demand

Seven leaders of Cornwall's health and care systems have written a joint letter setting out an "ongoing extreme surge in demand".

It said Covid-19, more visitors and social care pressures were key factors.

The letter to people in Cornwall is "designed to help you understand what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what you may be able to do to help".

Pressure points identified include a shortage of beds, staffing and social care options.

The briefing letter has been written and signed by senior representatives of Cornwall Council, NHS Kernow, the Royal Cornwall Hospital's NHS Trust, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the Council of the Isles of Scilly and Kate Shields, chief executive of the recently formed Integrated Care System.

It said: "Factors include the impact of Covid-19, providing care for our elderly and vulnerable citizens outside of hospital, and an increase in the numbers of people visiting our county for a holiday".

There are 27 patients with Covid-19 at the Royal Cornwall Hospital an increase from 17 on 12 August, with five currently in intensive care.

The health leaders said there were "more than 100 patients well enough to go home, but waiting for care to be provided from elsewhere within our health and care system or for someone to collect them".

The letter said a "one-off financial grant" was being made available to enable people to collect their relatives from hospital and care for them at home.

Other areas of concern were also identified. They include:

  • Care providers handing back the care of 102 people to Cornwall Council last month, because they were unable to fulfil packages
  • Care staff taking up alternative employment and being told to isolate by the NHS app
  • Staff numbers down due to sickness, vacancies and summer leave, with "significant issues county-wide to source affordable accommodation in either the short or long term"
  • Acute psychiatric units and dementia units operating at 100% capacity, meaning some patients are being moved out of Cornwall or "to locations which were not designed to deal with their very specialist needs"

The letter said there was also pressure on GP services, with doctors in Cornwall seeing a higher proportion of patients in June than the national average, the letter said.

The medical director of the hospital said the emergency department was the "busiest we have ever been", with an average of 51 patients at any one time, compared to 28 in July 2020.
People are asked to use other healthcare options, such as minor injury units if the situation is not life-threatening, and to use 111 online for advice and guidance.

People visiting Cornwall are encouraged to contact their GP at home if they need an appointment, and to consider asking a pharmacist if the ailment is minor.


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