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stmaryshospitalaandesignUPDATED: Pressure on a variety of services at St Mary’s Hospital has increased to critical levels, resulting in cancelled scheduled operations, support from the British Red Cross and additional staff being rushed in to cope with the increased demand on the Island’s only hospital.

As the strain on resources increases, ambulances are at times having to queue at the A&E department reducing the number available to answer 999 calls. This queueing may have resulted in some patients experiencing a delayed response for less serious conditions say the Isle of Wight NHS Trust.

With a lack of beds available throughout St Mary’s Hospital, more patients than usual are being kept in intensive care because they can’t be moved to other beds. There is also a delay in the movement of patients from the Emergency Department and Medical Assessment Unit into the main hospital.

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stmaryshospitalkohn32 additional beds have been opened up over the last couple of weeks and some beds have been prioritised for emergency admissions, however despite this the problems at the Newport hospital have increased to the now critical levels.

The Diagnostic Imaging area adjacent to the Emergency Department has been used to triage and treat minor injuries. Meanwhile, assistance has been sought from the British Red Cross, who have provided an ambulance crew to help respond to 999 emergencies.

The Trust say they have brought in additional staff over the weekend including call takers, paramedics, nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants. It comes after an appeal was issued by local media including Island Echo for staff to get in touch with the Trust if they could work over the weekend.

Additional measures have been put in place to help ease the pressure on NHS services including nursing home and residential care beds across the Island having been filled.

[alert-announce]It has been confirmed that scheduled operations for the majority of patients who were due to have operations tomorrow (Monday 5th) have been cancelled and it is likely that more operations scheduled for Tuesday (6th January) will be cancelled also. Patients will be contacted directly and cancelled operations will be rescheduled as quickly as possible. The trust say there is however no change to outpatients for Monday 5th January.[/alert-announce]

Mark Price, On Call Executive Director for Isle of Wight NHS Trust said:

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“This pressure is different from last year when we experienced a ‘black alert’. The pressure has been sustained and we have been seeing more severely ill patients in the Emergency Department than predicted such as cases of severe respiratory conditions

“There has been a fall in the last 24 hours in the number of people calling 999 and more Islanders are calling 111. We’d like to thank Islanders for heeding the message that services are under pressure.   Islanders can continue to assist services by following the guidance in the ‘What to know and when to go guide…’.

“It is very important that the guidance of GPs, nurses and pharmacists, and the instructions given with medicines, are followed precisely.  It is also important to ensure that if you require a repeat prescription that should be obtain that in good time from your GPs surgery.”

Cases attending the Beacon Health Centre over the weekend which were inappropriate include a cough; back pain which they have had for three weeks and a rash.

These and other examples are cases which can either be treated with self care or with advice from a pharmacist. The ‘What to know and when to go guide…’ explains in detail the options for patients and their relatives or carers.  Persistent back pain should initially be reviewed by the patient’s registered GP.

Patients may be unaware of the Pharmacy First scheme which allows the free supply of medicines by your pharmacist to treat most minor ailments. This means they can get expert advice and treatment for most minor ailment conditions without the need to see a GP. All consultations are private and the medicine supply is free to those who are eligible for free prescriptions.

Details of pharmacists with early and late opening can be found here.

Islanders are encouraged to take more care with their health where possible by either asking their local pharmacy staff for advice; looking for advice on line (; or self-treating using some basic medicine cabinet essentials.

[alert-note]Common complaints which can be treated at home with advice from the pharmacist include:

  • Skin conditions, such as mild acne and mild eczema
  • Coughs and colds including nasal congestion and sore throat
  • Minor cuts and bruises
  • Constipation and haemorrhoids (piles)
  • Hay fever and allergies
  • Aches, pains, such as headaches, earaches and backaches
  • Indigestion, diarrhoea and threadworms
  • Period pain and thrush
  • Warts and verrucas, mouth ulcer and cold sores
  • Athletes foot
  • Nappy rash and teething[/alert-note]

GPs should be visited if you have concerns about a condition that will not go away, or is getting worse. It is important to visit your GP if you have a recurring condition that is affecting your ability to function on a day to day basis.

[alert-note]For emergency dental treatment at weekends and bank holidays, call your own dentist first. If unable to make contact or unregistered on IW, call 0845 0508345, 08:30 to 21:.30 every day.[/alert-note]

UPDATE TUESDAY: Further operations have been cancelled today (Tuesday), however a spokesperson for the Isle of Wight NHS Trust has confirmed that there is no change to outpatient appointments.

Patients have been contacted directly.

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