University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust has suspended non-emergency operations to deal with “unprecedented pressures” at two hospital sites.
The decision was made by the trust after staff absences caused by COVID-19 and a rise in demand put pressure on urgent and emergency services.
The new measures are being introduced at Stafford’s County Hospital and Royal Stoke University Hospital.
Dr Steve Fawcett, a GP and the Clinical Lead for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent’s Urgent and Emergency Care Board said: “This is similar to the types of problems we have in winter, but with COVID-19 thrown into the mix. We have to remember that COVID-19 is still with us. Cases are higher in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire than the national average, and all our clinical settings – from GP surgeries to major hospitals – still need to take COVID precautions, social distancing and strict use of PPE.
“We understand exactly why UHNM are taking the action they are. While it is something no one would want to see it is probably essential given the current pressures. We also have more people seeking urgent and emergency care being admitted to our hospitals, and we face difficulties with people being well enough to be discharged from hospital but are waiting for a place in a care setting. The other significant issue is that many people either delayed seeking help or had treatment delayed because of the pandemic, and they are now in worse health than they would have been as a result.”
However maternity services will see no change to visiting, in light of the new announcements, but all visitors are encouraged to follow procedures that prevent the spread of COVID-19.