Epsom and St Helier hospitals have received an extra £1.1million to pay for more doctors and nurses to cope with the busy winter period.
On a visit to Epsom Hospital’s A&E in December, consultants told the Epsom Guardian that it was preparing for its busiest winter ever.
Dr Annali Lawrenson, A&E consultant, had said Epsom’s A&E was full to capacity on most days, with an ever-increasing number of more acutely sick patients coming in - a situation which had seen no let-up since the summer.
This newspaper was also told that that hospital trust has set aside £1million from its budget this year to cope with winter pressures.
The extra £1.1millon from the Government will be used to fund:
- additional doctors, consultants and nurses in the hospitals’ A&E departments, especially in the evenings and at weekends;
- extra beds for children;
- additional staffing in the urgent care centre at St Helier;
- and more staff in Epsom’s ambulatory care unit, for patients who need hospital treatment but who can walk and do not need to be admitted for an overnight stay.
Jackie Sullivan, the trust’s chief operating officer, said: "Winter can be a testing time for large hospitals like ours.
"The increase in the amount of patients is significant, and it’s not unusual for the people who we treat during winter to be very sick and need to stay in hospital for longer.
"That’s why it is so important that we have the plans and resources in place to deal with any challenging or busy periods, and can continue to offer our patients a high level of care in a timely way.
"These additional funds will allow us to provide extra staffing, will mean that we can pay for additional beds in our dedicated children’s wards and provide nursing support for people who need care during the night.
"It will also help to support healthcare services out in the community, which of course, will have a huge benefit for certain groups of our patients.
"That includes paying for GPs to work out-of-hours in our urgent care centre, which will mean that patients who come to our A&E departments but don’t need emergency care can be cared for more efficiently, and making sure that our patients have the support they need at home so they can be discharged from hospital.
"Not only will that mean that patients who are medically fit enough can go back to the comfort of their own home, but that our hospitals will have beds available for those patients who do need to be admitted."