Healthcare in Devon on ‘red alert’

Devon’s healthcare system is currently on ‘red alert’ as services continue to be ‘very busy’, with hospitals struggling to cope with patient demand and staffing numbers.

Anita Merritt

Today the RD&E has confirmed it is back down to OPEL 3, also known as red alert, after having previously been at the highest level – OPEL 4, also known as black alert, this week.

It is issued when demand within a local health and social care system escalates to a level in which organisations are unable to deliver comprehensive care.

The alert was issued due to the hospital having to deal with ‘extremely’ high numbers of people attending A&E and medical referrals, along with a reduced workforce due to sickness.

It has not been confirmed how long it was on ‘black alert’, but Devon health services provider NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has confirmed that the system as a whole is on OPEL 3, but is still ‘very busy’.

Dr Paul Johnson, chair of NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We really need you to support us. Please ask yourself whether you have a genuine life-threatening emergency before attending an emergency department (ED).

“If you are not in the right place, you may be redirected to a more appropriate service. This is because we need to safely prioritise those with the most urgent need.

“We are also asking people to pick up friends or relatives as soon as they are well enough to be discharged from hospital. This frees up beds for other patients who need them.

“Finally, we are seeing high numbers of children coming to hospital. There is a really useful HANDi paediatric app for advice on common childhood illnesses and when to seek help.”

There are other ways people can support services. These include:

  • Using your local pharmacist for minor conditions such as insect bites, ear ache and skin rashes.
  • Using NHS 111 – online or by phone if you need advice or medical treatment quickly and can’t wait to see your GP. If you need to be seen by a Minor Injuries or Emergency Department they can book you in.
  • Getting vaccinated against Covid-19. Have both jabs and your booster if you are eligible
  • Staying away from hospitals if you have Covid symptoms, or diarrhoea and vomiting.

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