Cornwall hospital discharging patients to free space for G7, claim Lib Dems

Fears have been raised that patients are being discharged from Cornwall’s main hospital to clear space in case it is needed for VIPs, delegates, police or protesters during the G7 summit.

Steven Morris 

The Liberal Democrats in Cornwall claimed two wards had been emptied at the Royal Cornwall hospital in Truro in readiness for the three-day meeting of world leaders.

Health officials refused to discuss details of their plans but confirmed that “capacity” was being created to prepare for the event, which begins on Friday.

Andrew George, the health spokesperson for the Lib Dems in Cornwall, accused the UK government of not planning adequately for the event, during which tens of thousands of delegates, police, protesters and media representatives will descend on the far south-west of Britain.

George said: “The early discharge of sick patients to clear hospital wards is among the inevitable consequences of the government failing to put proper plans in place before the G7 comes to town.”

One woman, from Newquay, claimed she had been asked to find a care home bed for her 97-year-old father who is in the hospital, which is known locally as Treliske.

The woman, who spoke to Radio Cornwall and gave her name as Lindsey, said: “I was absolutely incensed at the thought that patients needing treatment are being shipped out of hospital, and local people including my father are not able to find a space. I am absolutely disgusted with the situation.

“A care home owner told me that Treliske hospital has to provide 78 empty beds for the G7 and that patients were being sent out of the hospital into care homes and so she said you were very unlikely to find anywhere.”

NHS Kernow said: “As at any time when we expect increased demand for our services, we work together with our health and care partners to create additional capacity in our hospitals. We have done this to ensure we are prepared for G7, as we would with any major event in the county.

“Patients being discharged are, as always, medically fit and with an adult social care package in place when required. This is business as usual for health and social care.

“It is not good for people to remain in hospital longer than they need to and places additional pressure on our hospitals. We work closely with Cornwall council to ensure it has put in place a social care package to support anyone who is fit and well enough to leave hospital. Especially when our hospitals are so busy.”

On Tuesday, NHS Kernow tweeted a request for people to help the health service during the summit by only calling 999 if they faced a life-threatening emergency and believed they needed the care of a paramedic on the way to hospital.

NHS Kernow also urged people not to turn up at a minor injury unit without contacting NHS 111 first and not to visit an emergency department “unless you have an urgent, life-threatening condition such as a suspected heart attack, stroke, severe loss of blood, difficulty breathing, or are unconscious”.

It also advised people who are booked for a Covid vaccination to allow extra time for journeys if they live in an area where there will be travel disruptions.

A UK government spokesperson said: “The government has not requested that any patients be removed from local hospitals to prepare for the G7 summit. Decisions on patient care are matter for the local NHS, and Cornwall council is responsible for adult social care provision.”