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Chief Officer thanks staff and public for resolve during recent pressures

The chief officer of NHS Nottingham North and East Clinical Commissioning Group, Sam Walters has thanked patients and staff for their cooperation and resolve during the recent pressures on acute hospital services. She was speaking in her capacity as chair of a special urgent care working group of health care providers, clinical commissioning groups from across Nottinghamshire, out of hours care providers Nottingham Emergency Medical Services;  East Midlands Ambulance Service;  home care providers, Nottingham City Care, Community Health Partnerships; and Nottingham University Hospitals.

The group was set up to manage the health services’ response to the recent unprecedented demands on NHS services.

“Like hospitals across the UK, Nottinghamshire has not escaped the pressures currently facing its accident and emergency departments and the knock on effects these are having on hospital departments and the wider social care services throughout the county.  Yet, despite all this, staff from across the whole health care  community have worked tirelessly to continue to provide quality services in an increasingly high pressured environment to make sure patients get the best possible service. This has required resolve, resilience and dedication. For that, I am extremely proud and very grateful.

“It’s easy to watch the news and read the newspapers and feel down about the NHS at the moment. The publication of A&E waiting time figures seemed in itself to add even more pressure. There have no doubt been times when patients have not always had the service they should have expected. However, what has become clear is that whenever I hear negative feedback about waiting times, it nearly always comes hand in hand with positive feedback about the dedication of the staff they meet.

“Many have expressed surprise about the severity of pressures which led to the cancellation of some minor hospital operations and the recruitment of extra staff to help manage the increased demand.   For those who had to have their procedure postponed, we would like to say sorry and thank you for bearing with us.

“The truth us, there is no one reason there are increased pressures. It’s down to a range of factors; an ageing population of people with ever more complex conditions that require complex treatment from specialist doctors and nurses. There has also been an increase in particular in people with heart and lung conditions who can get very poorly, very quickly. Add the prolonged extreme weather and we have what many have described as the ‘perfect storm’.

“The good news is that measures we introduced in response are already starting to make a difference. We are working to free up beds within the community so that people who can be discharged from hospital can be transferred to locations closer to home to aid their recovery.  GPs are targeting patients with respiratory problems so they have the advice and support needed to stay well in the cold weather. The recruitment of extra staff in our accident and emergency departments is also helping to manage the increased patient numbers.

“We’re also trying hard to promote local NHS services so people find it easier to choose the right service for them.  We have commissioned high profile campaigns to promote pharmacies where people can get expert advice about common ailments and health problems that are often presented at gp surgeries or even A&E departments. We’re also promoting use of the NHS 111 helpline for advice about urgent care needs and people are heeding advice to contact their gp out of hours service or using walk in centres.

“Without this cooperation from the public the pressures on front line services simply will not go away. As a mum myself I do understand why concerned parent may sometimes think that A&E is the only option for their poorly child,  yet in half the cases children are often discharged from A&E the same day they were admitted with just advice – strongly suggesting they didn’t need to be there at all.

“The pressures we face may be here to stay but what can control is the way we manage services and the way people use our services. If we achieve that we stand the best chance possible of sustaining quality services for future generations.”

Sam Walters

Chief officer for NHS Nottingham North and East Clinical Commissioning Group

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