Derriford Hospital on 'red alert' as extra beds fill up

Derriford Hospital Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Derriford Hospital has opened 41 extra beds to cope with an influx of patients

Plymouth's Derriford Hospital has opened 41 extra beds in a bid to cope after declaring it was on "red alert" because of patient demand.

The hospital is cancelling about 15 planned operations a day to deal with the problem.

Bosses have apologised to patients affected and appealed for staff to work overtime.

"Derriford Hospital is extremely busy, operating on red alert," Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust said.

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"We have opened 41 escalation beds - every extra bed in every extra space we have.

"However, these beds are not planned for and therefore we did not have rostered staff to care for patients in these beds."

'Extremely difficult'

It admitted that as an acute care hospital, it was "extremely difficult" to deal with the increased demand from people who are living longer but suffering more illness and disability.

"This is a national phenomenon but felt particularly in the south-west due to the age profile of our population," the trust continued.

"We cannot turn away patients who are medical emergencies but the demand for beds means we are having to cancel around 15 planned operations and procedures per day.

"Our staff are working extremely hard, often giving over and above beyond what we would expect."

The NHS uses a national internal alert system based on the colours green, amber, red and black to rank how busy a local health and social care system is.

The Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital are also both on red alert.