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Flu and other respiratory diseases causing ‘significant pressure’ on Nottinghamshire hospital

Hospitals in north Nottinghamshire preparing for busy winter months remain under “significant pressure” despite no longer being in ‘critical incident’ status.

However, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust (SFH), which runs King’s Mill, Newark and Mansfield Community Hospitals, says it’s in a “much better position” than this time last month, when some services were halted.

The organisation says it’s facing increased demand for services at a time of rising numbers of Covid cases, flu and other respiratory diseases.

Now the trust says it is in a better position this November but warned there are rising cases of serious respiratory illness emerging inside its hospitals.

And it says “huge challenges” are on the horizon as the NHS prepares for winter, which is typically its most difficult period for coping with increased demand for healthcare services.

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The issue was briefly discussed by SFH’s chief executive Paul Robinson as he presented a report to board members.

Speaking during the meeting, he said: “Through October we remained in a very challenging position.

“We remained in our critical incident internally – which is OPEL 4 – and we were in OPEL 3 and 4 throughout the month.

“We have experienced increases in Covid numbers in patients; indeed, we’ve now got influenza in the hospitals alongside other respiratory diseases.

“It remains really, really challenging. Thank you to all our colleagues working tirelessly to care for our patients.”

In a report published before the board meeting on Friday (November 4), he added: “We are in a much better position than we were at the beginning of October, thanks to the skill and dedication of our hardworking NHS colleagues across the county.

“However, it is important to recognise that we remain under significant pressure and we still face huge challenges as winter approaches.

“Our services remain very busy and we anticipate that there will be some difficult weeks ahead.”

The trust is asking communities to “help their local NHS to help them this winter”.

This includes a drive to deter people from going to emergency departments unless it is “absolutely necessary”, with potential patients being urged to contact NHS 111 if they have any issues.

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Mr Robinson added: “Hospital emergency departments aren’t always the best place to access the healthcare they need.

“We are encouraging the public to think ‘NHS 111 first’ before attending our emergency department at King’s Mill Hospital and our Urgent Treatment Centre at Newark Hospital.

“NHS111 professionals can direct people to the most appropriate place to help them get the support they need, including by directing people to appointments with their local GPs, pharmacies and other NHS services locally, even out-of-hours.”

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