Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

Hospitals run out of beds as NHS strained by norovirus

Health service figures show several casualty units were shut around the country and no spaces free even before onset of full winter conditions

Hospitals have run out of beds, had to temporarily close their A&E unit and been battling outbreaks of norovirus this month, even though winter has not yet brought its usual major problems for the NHS, such as flu and bad weather. Official figures released on Friday by NHS England, for hospital performance in the first week of December, show many are already struggling to cope with the extra pressures, even before the heaviest strain of norovirus, which usually arrives in January.

NHS England’s first set of situation reports data covering the previous week, which it will release every Friday until the spring, shows that 12 hospital trusts did not have a single bed available from 4-6 December, and another 30 had fewer than 10 beds free for patients. That so many hospitals have so few beds available at this early stage of the winter will increase the widespread concern in the NHS that hospitals will not be able to cope with the influx of very sick patients that usually happens in January.

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The scandal of dirty wards in Nottingham’s hospitals

Patients caught superbugs in city hospital wards after the private firm paid £200 million to clean them failed to do its job properly.

The number of hospital beds out of action due to outbreaks of viruses almost doubled under the care of Carillion, which has a contract to maintain the City Hospital and Queen’s Medical Centre. A decontamination unit has now been set up by NHS bosses and dirty wards are being deep-cleaned. Nurses are also being trained to do more cleaning. But patients say the news, published in a report by Nottingham Hospitals University Trust, is “beyond belief”.

David Jones, chairman of Nottingham Pensioners’ Action Group, said two of the group’s members had recently contracted infections while in hospital. He said: “This is a major concern. It’s quite worrying that we’ve had two members who have had problems recently where they have been in hospital and caught infections; it takes a long time to recover. “Members have been worried about the fact that it has gone out to private contract because companies need to keep that profitability. This is the effect that we are seeing now. “We expect the contract to be met, considering all the money they are being given.”

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GV of QMC (Queen's Medical Centre), Nottingham.  PICTURE BY DAN MATTHAMS.

GV of QMC (Queen’s Medical Centre), Nottingham.

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NHS crisis warning over killer winter bug

BRITAIN is in the grip of an early winter sickness bug crisis that could wreak havoc on the NHS. Cases of deadly norovirus have been gathering pace in the past month and experts are warning of the impact on hospitals. More than 1,000 people are officially confirmed to have been struck by the virus since the start of July. But thousands more cases are thought to have gone unreported. In October, there were 18 outbreaks in hospitals hitting 130 patients and 57 staff and all but one caused ward closures, according to health officials. Since July, 767 patients and 264 staff were confirmed as having norovirus, which causes fever, headache, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea. Public Health England last night pleaded for anyone who suspects they have norovirus to stay away from doctors’ surgeries and hospitals.

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