By Ian Dipple Monday 04 November 2013 Updated: 04/11 15:04
FEARS have been raised the county's hospitals are facing another winter which could push emergency departments to breaking point.
Stewart Messer, chief operating officer at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, warned emergency admissions for the first three weeks of October were already higher than last winter, which brought the system to the brink of meltdown with hundreds of operations cancelled, beds taken up by patients unable to be discharged and people queueing to on trolleys in corridors waiting to be seen.
Commissioners across the county have put in a number of schemes to treat more people in their own home or the community to ease the pressure this winter and the Trust is also using £1million from the Government to buy private nursing home beds to discharge people who no longer need hospital care.
But although emergency admissions are down four per cent on last year, they are still 7.3 per cent higher than 2011/12, while continued delays in social care and the availability of community beds mean on average 60 people are on the 'ready to go list' tying up three wards worth of beds which could be used for patients needing operations.
"In the first three weeks [of October] we have seen higher than expected numbers of admissions and higher than 2012/13 which we all know was an extremely challenging winter," he told a board meeting last Wednesday (October 30).
"We have had 250 more admissions in October than we expected in plan. It's equivalent to 35 beds worth of pressure on us in October.
"That causes significant operational issues about maintaining our elective activity and around that we are seeking more reassurance from commissioners about when can we expect their plans to start to kick-in and we start to see the benefit."
Collectively commissioners have invested over £1million in continuing 13 schemes which last year cut A&E attendances by 1,447 people and reduced unplanned hospital admissions by 1,345 patients.
Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group has invested an additional £225,000 in admission prevention schemes and between April and September 9, 1,258 fewer people than last year attended at the Alexandra Hospital while admissions fell by seven per cent. An extra 60 beds have also been put into the system.
The majority of commissioner schemes across the county are backloaded and will have the most impact during the winter months.
Simon Hairsnape, chief officer for the CCG, said: "It's all about making sure we treat people in the right situation which in many cases is in their own home."
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