Somerset

Yeovil hospital back on black alert after 'busiest fortnight'

Yeovil District Hospital Image copyright Yeovil district hospital
Image caption Yeovil District Hospital had been on black alert since 24 February after being overwhelmed by demand

A Somerset hospital has declared its third "black alert" of the winter as doctors say they are dealing with the "busiest fortnight in our history".

"Unprecedented pressure" at Yeovil District Hospital means 80 operations have been cancelled in two weeks.

A temporary ward with 24 extra beds was opened in February to cope with winter pressures - but that is also full.

Deputy chief executive Jonathan Howes told the BBC: "Every part of our capacity has been filled."

The 345-bed hospital serves a population of about 185,000 - largely in south Somerset, North and West Dorset and parts of Mendip.

'Acute crisis'

It has already been on "black alert" - meaning there are not enough beds to cope with numbers coming in to A&E - twice this winter, in January and February.

Dr Howes said the pressure was partly explained by the area's ageing population, many of whom have "multiple conditions". There has also been "respiratory conditions" circulating in schools and workplaces.

"That, combined with pressures felt in other parts of the system so that we can't discharge people from hospital, has caused the acute crisis right now."

"We are always under pressure but the last fortnight has seen the busiest period in our history.

"This has been an on-going issue, we have had the highest number of attendances in our emergency department on record, up in the 170s - we normally see about 130. This has been sustained over the last fortnight. "

With the "added pressure" of the Easter weekend ahead, the hospital is urging people to "think carefully" before going to A&E - as a "significant number" of those who have been in casualty could have been treated elsewhere, at minor injuries units, GP walk-in centres or by calling 111.

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