Royal Cornwall Hospital: Vomiting bug caused 'critical incident'

ambulances queuing
Image caption Ambulances were seen queued outside the Royal Cornwall Hospital

An outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting was one of the causes of a "critical incident" at a hospital.

Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro declared it was struggling to cope with "extreme pressure" on Tuesday.

In a letter to MPs, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the outbreak, which began in care homes, caused a "significant number of bed closures".

The hospital has since managed to "step-down" from the highest alert level.

On Monday, 15 ambulances were seen queued outside the hospital in Truro.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) chief executive Kate Shields said: "We reached the point where we couldn't take any more people into the hospital because the long corridor was full of people and we couldn't get people off ambulances."

Image caption Additional clinical staff were brought in to ease pressures at the hospital

In the letter, which was shared by MP for Truro and Falmouth Sarah Newton on Twitter, Mr Hancock reassured Cornish MPs that the Department for Health and Social Care had been liaising with NHS England and NHS Improvement to ensure "actions are being taken to rectify the situation".

He said measures taken included:

  • Additional doctors, nurses and therapists being brought in
  • Camborne Redruth Community Hospital and West Cornwall Hospital being set up as sub-acute units
  • Ambulances being sent to alternative hospitals
  • The funding of a taxi service to take some walk-in patients from RCHT to alternative hospitals
  • The extension of acute GP hours at RCHT
  • A full review of all patients to ensure flow through the system

RCHT has now reduced its official pressure level to OPEL 3, the second-highest.

The hospital thanked staff for the "outstanding system-wide response to the pressures", and said many of the changes made in the last 48 hours would "remain in place" as it prepares for the summer holidays.

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