Four London hospital trusts ran out of beds, three were forced to divert ambulances and others had to close wards as the winter vomiting bug placed additional pressure on the NHS.
Hillingdon, North Middlesex, Epsom & St Helier and the Royal Free all reported being at full capacity at various stages last week, NHS England’s weekly winter report revealed today.
King’s College Hospital trust, which runs King’s in Denmark Hill and the Princess Royal in Orpington, had a total of 56 beds unavailable due to norovirus, including 20 on December 7 and 17 on December 8. Hillingdon and Lewisham & Greenwich were also affected by the need to contain the spread of the bug.
Today’s figures, for the seven days to Sunday [Dec 13] show demand for A&E services is causing extraordinary pressures across all hospital wards as doctors struggle to admit patients.
Hillingdon had every one of its 342 adult and acute beds ocupied between December 7-10, and had only six beds spare over the weekend. North Middlesex was full on two weekdays and had only one spare bed at the weekend. The Royal Free trust, which has three north London hospitals, and Epsom & St Helier each declared one day at full capacity.
Ambulances were diverted away from A&E departments by Barts Health – the country’s biggest trust – on December 8, by Hillingdon on December 9 and by King’s across last weekend.
Unlike last year, NHS England no longer publishes weekly figures showing how many patients were treated within the four-hour target. This will be revealed in February.
A KIng’s College Hospital spokesman said the beds were closed across both sites. He said the majority of cases were for diarrhoea and vomiting rather than Norovirus.
An NHS England London spokesperson said: “Although you can catch Norovirus at any time of the year, we know that it is more common during winter months.
“The NHS prepares for this and has plans in place to reduce transmission of the virus, to minimise disruption to other services and to ensure that we continue to care for patients in the best way possible.”