|Queen Alexandra (QA) Hospital is on its seventh day of critical incident after significant demand for urgent and emergency care continues to outstrip the available capacity in Portsmouth and South East Hampshire.
Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU) declared the critical incident on Thursday 29 December to help protect patient safety, and remains in critical incident today (Wednesday 4 January).
- Capacity at the hospital will only be used for life-threatening conditions or injuries. If you turn up at the emergency department requiring minor care, you will be redirected to alternative services.
- There will be unavoidable delays. Staff at PHU are doing everything in their power to give patients the care they need as soon as possible. However, we recognise that during this period of significant pressure this may not always be possible.
- Nearly all hospital beds in Portsmouth and across Hampshire and Isle of Wight are full. Demand for emergency and urgent care is far outstripping the available capacity.
Senior Matron at PHU, Emily Jones, has recorded a short video about the ongoing critical incident at QA.
Know where to go for help
To help relieve pressure at QA Hospital, and to ensure patients get the right care, it is important to know where to go for help.
Staff at QA are reporting that some patients are inappropriately attending the emergency department with coughs, colds, high temperatures, flu like symptoms, rashes, stomach pains and norovirus symptoms.
Patients should consider using the following services for urgent, but not emergency, care:
- Self care at home. Have a good supply of paracetamol and ibuprofen, drink plenty of fluids and treat minor ailments such as coughs, colds and high temperatures at home.
- Pharmacies for expert advice on conditions such as headaches, aches and pains or an upset stomach. Visit the NHS website to find your local pharmacy.
- Your GP practice for longer-term symptoms that don’t go away, such as ear ache, back pain or ongoing health concerns. You can contact your GP by phone or online through e-consult to make an appointment in the coming weeks. Please do not queue at the practice if you don’t need to.
- Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) for minor conditions such as sprains, strains, broken bones, minor burns and wounds – contact 111 for a timed appointment or just turn up (however, you may wait longer than if you had a timed appointment). Our nearest UTCs are:
- Mary’s Hospital, 8am-8pm every day
- Petersfield Hospital, 8am-8pm every day
- Gosport War Memorial Hospital, 8am-10pm every day
- Healthier Together is a website and app that offers urgent medical help for a young person aged 0-18. The site has advice and clinical resources for parents, carers, young people and pregnant women.
- Mental health services are available for anyone needing support – see the full list of local services on our website.
- NHS 111 online for urgent medical help that isn’t an emergency – advisers can offer advice and direct you to the right service. Visit the website or call 111.
If you have a life-threatening or serious emergency, it’s okay to call 999 or attend the emergency department (ED), however anyone attending the ED at QA without a serious, life-threatening emergency will be directed to another, more appropriate service for their needs.
Life-threatening emergencies include severe chest pain, breathing difficulties, stroke, loss of consciousness or heavy bleeding that cannot be stopped.
High and rising levels of flu, warns Director of Public Health
Portsmouth’s Director of Public Health, Helen Atkinson, warns that levels of influenza (flu) are high and rising and it’s adding significant pressure across the healthcare system.
Helen says: “The best thing you can do, if you haven’t already, is get the flu vaccine. This greatly reduces the risk of more serious illness.
“We can also use a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, wash our hands often, and keep a distance from anyone with flu-like symptoms.
“Influenza admissions continue to increase with rates now just below the Covid admission rate and are highest in those 85 years and over and under five year old age groups.”
The flu vaccine is offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of getting seriously ill from flu. The flu vaccine is available for free to adults who are 50 and over (including those who will be 50 by 31 March 2023), those who have certain health conditions or are pregnant. Other groups are also eligible.