Sat. May 21st, 2022

Queues of ambulances have been spotted outside a Greater Manchester hospital this week – as the NHS prepares for a winter of increased pressure.

According to witnesses, ‘up to 25’ had lined up during a night of ‘long wait’ at the Royal Oldham Hospital Accident and Emergency Department on Monday (October 4).

Hospitals, including those in Greater Manchester, have experienced ‘extreme pressure’ during this year due to a combination of factors.

READ MORE:Health executives urge ‘frustrated’ patients to treat NHS staff as ‘people’ as GPs face rising demand

Just before 9pm on Monday night, a man attending A&E at Royal Oldham said: “Long waits at Royal Oldham Hospital with 25 ambulances waiting outside.

A photo taken at Royal Oldham Hospital on Monday 4 October that appears to show ambulances queuing outside A&E

“Why? [It’s] a joke.”

Manchester Evening News asked the person in charge of the hospital, the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust (NCA), about the causes of the queues.

The scenes stem from a ‘busy night’ at A&E, according to a NCA spokesman.

But confidence denied that the hospital at the time was on black alert – the most serious of operational pressure escalation levels (OPEL).

Ambulances ‘waiting outside’

This method is used by the NHS to measure stress, demand and pressure.

On Thursday, the NCA issued a statement addressing the images, saying the number of people who can be seen ‘safely’ within the emergency department is limited due to Covid-19.

However, the trust added that while ambulances were seen queuing, patients were ‘not treated inside’ the parked vehicles.

“Patient safety is our top priority and we have robust plans in place to respond if and when the pressure increases on our services, prioritize patients in terms of clinical urgency,” said a spokesman for Royal Oldham Hospital.

“Our staff works incredibly hard to see patients quickly while working within national guidelines for the prevention and control of Covid-19, which limits the number we can safely see in the emergency department at any given time.”

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The trust also claims that there were no ’25 ambulances’ in line outside the hospital at any point on Monday night, as the eyewitness says.

But the organization would not share its figure for the exact number of vehicles waiting outside the emergency department at the top of the evening.

In response to the scenes from Monday night, the North West Ambulance Service says it ‘is still extremely busy’.

A spokesman said: “The ambulance service is still extremely busy.

“The public can help by only calling 999 in a life-threatening emergency. For less urgent medical attention, they can talk to their doctor, pharmacy or visit 111.nhs.uk”.

Greater Manchester health chiefs are now warning that the toughest season for the NHS is on its way.

Sarah Price, interim head of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “NHS staff throughout Greater Manchester are working incredibly hard to provide the best possible care and support to local residents.

“However, there is no doubt that the picture is still challenging, and we are stretched in terms of demand for services.

The colder months are always a test time for the NHS, as seasonal illnesses, such as respiratory viruses, mean more people need help. Inevitably, the pressure will increase while we are still dealing with Covid-19 and the consequences of the pandemic.

“The NHS will always be available to those who need care and treatment. We can all help ensure that those with the most urgent needs are seen most quickly by thinking about how we seek care and treatment.

“If you are unsure, call 111 or use the online service at any time of the day for emergency medical advice.”

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