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What is a ‘critical incident’?

There have been a number of 'critical incidents' at Staffordshire hospitals, but what does this mean?

You may have seen the news recently that Staffordshire hospitals have declared a ‘critical incident’ (13 Feb, 2024) – but what does this mean?

A ‘critical incident’ is when the hospital is under an extremely high demand for its services. Declaring a critical incident allows extra steps to be taken to maintain safe services for patients.

Medical director Dr Matthew Lewis has said:

“We are currently experiencing extremely high demand for all our services. Both Royal Stoke University Hospital and County Hospital in Stafford have been under severe and sustained pressure since the start of the year, but we have seen even greater demands in the last 24 hours.”

“As anticipated, the pressure is greatest in our emergency departments, which are facing continued challenges as patients cannot be admitted to beds promptly”

“During this time the emergency departments will continue to see the sickest patients first, which means, for some patients, there may be much longer delays than usual.”

During critical incidents there is some advice for those using the hospital:

UHNM said it was working with the NHS and local councils to find additional ways to help patients who did not need emergency care to leave hospital, in order to free up bed space.

Check out where your appointments are, as you may find that your appointments are booked at a different location than usual.

People collecting friends or loved ones once they are discharged are urged to pick them up as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know is feeling unwell you can get advice by calling 111 or visiting 111 online, which can tell you your best next steps.

In a serious or life-threatening emergency do not be afraid to come forward, but make sure A&E is only used for these cases, so those who need it can be seen.

Read more here.