Health leaders in Bedfordshire are urging residents to use NHS services wisely over the coming days to help ensure that care is available to patients who need it most.
Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is seeing significant levels of demand and with junior doctors currently on strike until 06:59 on Thursday 16 March, the hospital is working to protect emergency care across its two sites – Bedford Hospital and the Luton & Dunstable Hospital, for those who need it most.
Cathy Jones, Deputy Chief Executive of Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust said:
“We have seen a higher than usual number of admissions across our two hospital sites since Friday, which means that we have had to expand into areas of the hospital which are not designed to support inpatients. For instance, we are currently using our endoscopy unit and theatres recovery areas to bed patients which puts pressure on our staff.
“With industrial action taking place over the next three days and our services already under significant pressure, I am concerned that current levels of admissions could lead to services being overwhelmed.
“We are urging residents in Bedfordshire and Luton to choose their services wisely, so we can concentrate on delivering critical, life-saving care.”
“NHS 111 call centres are fully operational and although longer call response times are expected, calls will be answered and help, and advice will be provided. People who need non-urgent care should first seek help from NHS 111 online.”
Choosing services that are right for you.
Patients should only call 999 if it is a medical or mental health emergency, when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
Ambulances will still be able to respond in these situations, but this may only be where there is an immediate risk to life. There will be fewer ambulances on the roads during industrial action, with the NHS prioritising those with life-threatening needs.
NHS 111 and 999 call-handlers will be available to provide advice on whether there are circumstances where a visit to hospital is necessary.
The NHS is also asking the public to play their part by taking simple steps during industrial action to look after themselves, loved ones and checking in on vulnerable family members and neighbours.
For more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E, you can visit the NHS UK website.