Major incident declared at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge as doors close to new patients

Addenbrooke's Hospital

Addenbrooke's Hospital - Credit: Archant

Whether you look north or south for hospital treatment, it’s not a pretty picture this week as the NHS creaks under the strain of a winter surge of patients.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital has declared a ‘major incident’ on its wards and closed its doors to the majority of new patients due to ‘unprecedented levels of demand’.

The health chief in charge of the Cambridge hospital said on Tuesday that the facility had been in ‘critical internal incident mode’ for two days and was struggling to cope.

New patients are being asked not to visit A&E unless they have an emergency or are suffering from a life-threatening condition.

The news came on the same day as the Lister Hospital in Stevenage also advised patients to stay away if they could, but stopped short of declaring a major incident.

Dr Keith McNeil, chief executive of the Cambridge University Hospitals’ NHS Foundation Trust which runs Addenbrooke’s, said: “Our priority is to care safely for the patients already in the hospital, arrange the safe discharge of those who are well enough to go home, and to ensure that we can provide care for those who require urgent treatment.

“Giving the extreme circumstances, we are contacting relatives of patients who are medically fit to go home, with ongoing care needs such as feeding or personal care and asking them, wherever possible, to take their relative home while adult social care put their care packages in place.

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“As part of our plans to manage high demand on our services, we have cancelled all non-emergency surgery and procedures.

“Right across the country the situation is similar. Ambulance and community services are also under pressure and this has put additional pressure onto acute hospitals.”

Dr McNeil also thanked staff for their efforts in “challenging circumstances”.

Dr Hari Pathmanathan, chair of East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group which works with Stevenage’s Lister Hospital, said: “We have never seen our hospitals under such pressure before. It’s vital that everyone understands the urgency of the situation and what you can do to protect our essential hospital services

“Accident and emergency departments only have the capacity to treat people who have serious, life-threatening or dangerous conditions.”

Due to patient increases Addenbrooke’s missed its 95 per cent target of seeing A&E patients within four hours, scoring 66 per cent this week. The Lister Hospital scored 81.1 per cent.

About 10 hospitals around the country have declared major incidents this week including Peterborough City Hospital and the Norfolk and Norwich.