Due to the significant ongoing pressure on local NHS services, alongside the need to act swiftly to ensure patients continue to receive safe, high quality care, we declared a critical incident across health services in Surrey Heartlands on 29th December 2022.
We are seeing record numbers of people attending A&E, calling NHS111, accessing GP services and calling 999; ongoing challenges in discharging patients who are well enough to leave hospital to create capacity for patients coming in; and we are seeing an increase in staff sickness - all of which has led to longer waits than we would like for patients to receive the care they need.
Because of these pressures, the local health and care system has taken the decision to escalate to a critical incident which allows us to be able to take additional steps to maintain safe services for our patients and help us cope with the growing pressures.
Unfortunately, this does mean local organisations may need to reschedule some non-urgent operations, treatments and outpatient appointments to accommodate those patients with the most urgent clinical need. People should attend appointments unless they are contacted; cancer and our other most urgent operations continue to be prioritised.
Our teams continue to work exceptionally hard; and we would like to reassure our patients and the public that despite the challenges faced and some changes to non-urgent appointments, essential services remain fully open for anyone who needs them so if you require urgent medical help, please continue to come forward.
Dr Charlotte Canniff, Joint Chief Medical Officer at Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership said:
Due to the significant ongoing pressure on local NHS services with high rates of circulating Covid 19 and flu, a critical incident has been declared across health services across Surrey Heartlands. This allows us to take additional steps to maintain safe services for our patients and help us cope with the growing pressures.
We continue to experience significant demand across all our health services and our clinical teams are working tirelessly to continue to provide safe care for patients.
Citizens can help us by getting their flu and COVID jabs when offered, and using NHS111 including NHS111 online, pharmacies, urgent treatment centres and local GP services for less urgent issues, keeping our Emergency Departments and 999 services free for those with very serious and life-threatening conditions.
The public can help us manage these periods of demand by ensuring they are seeking help from the most appropriate health services, and only attending A&E for serious accidents and emergencies. If you are unwell, see NHS 111 online for 24/7 advice about the most appropriate care for your needs or call NHS 111, although phone lines remain very busy.
Update 12th January 2023
On Saturday 7th January 2023, the Surrey Heartlands health and care system moved from a critical incident into a business continuity incident. This was in place until 12th January 2023, when the system moved out of business continuity incident. This reflected a significant amount of work by teams across the system, resulting in an improved position, although services remain busy and work continues to address some ongoing challenges.
The advice above continues to apply if people need to access health advice – you can help your local NHS by using the right service so we can make sure people who are critically ill are seen as quickly as possible.
Surrey Heartlands would like to thank everyone working in the system, across all services and all organisations, for everything they continue to do as they care for, and support, patients and their families during what continues to be a very busy time.