DOZENS of extra beds are being brought in at Barnsley Hospital after bosses revealed they are anticipating a 30 per cent increase in inpatients over the winter due to the likelihood of a surge in Covid-19 infections.
‘Winter escalation’ plans are already in place at the Gawber facility, with an additional 34 beds from this month and 24 more from December at a cost of £1m.
A report said: “Barnsley Hospital requires advanced preparation to manage the predicted sustained pressure on bed capacity across the health and local economy of Barnsley during the 2023/2024 winter period.
“Each winter the NHS prepares for the challenges of winter in order to ensure it can sustain the delivery of quality and safe care to the national population.
“Organisations have legacy learning from the previous winters, influenza and pandemic outbreaks -traditionally acute trusts are expected to plan for a 30 per cent increase in inpatient activity.
“We review plans annually for meeting the winter demand for inpatient beds but this year takes place within the context of ongoing, urgent and emergency pressures plus the likelihood of significant Covid and flu
“This is based on early warnings from public health and the profile
being reported from the southern hemisphere.
“This year plans need to include an influenza and Covid surge, possibly pre-Christmas, with further respiratory illness in January and February.
“Once the trust reaches ten per cent of bed bases being impacted from infection, the escalation framework will be enacted as there is a high risk to patient flow.
“It is highly probably that the NHS will continue to experience industrial action which will also impact on the delivery of the winter plan.
“It is expected that this framework will remain in operation until May 2024.”
For those attending the hospital’s accident and emergency department, point-of-entry Covid tests are set to be brought in - at a cost of £116,000 - to support the ‘appropriate placing’ of patients who return a positive test.
The hospital expect an average of 300 visits to A and E per day, with up to 80 admissions, and 90 daily discharges.
Nationally, the number of hospital patients with Covid-19 has increased by 32 per cent in the last four weeks.
The figures also show 33 new patients with Covid were admitted to hospital in Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in the week to October 6.
The report added: “Capacity plans for winter 2023/24 have been based upon activity levels being similar to last year recognising this incorporates the surge seen in January 2023, thus building in some flex against the usual winter demand
“Our current plan is aimed at providing as much bedded capacity as possible to enable elective work.
“The overall objective is to have sufficient medical/surgical beds and not exceed 100 per cent occupancy at the peak point of winter, usually early January, enabling patients to allocated the right bed within two hours of request.”