• East Midlands trust escalated to Opel 4 after experiencing very high emergency attends. 
  • Trust was also on black alert over the summer.

Nottingham University Hospitals has been on black alert for multiple days after being faced with “very high” emergency attendances since last week.

The trust confirmed with HSJ it had been on black alert – also known as Opel 4 – and NUH chief operating officer Lisa Kelly said this was because emergency services were under “considerable pressure since last week with very high emergency attends”.

“Regrettably this has resulted in very long waits to be seen for some patients, for which we apologise,” Ms Kelly said. “We have asked our local community to help by only using our emergency department for serious and life-threatening illness and injuries.”

According to an internal alert message seen by HSJ the trust declared on Monday it had escalated to Opel 4.

The message said: “We currently have 116 patients in ED and 46 patients waiting for the next available bed.”

“Our hospitals are very full so please focus on prioritising timely discharges and preparing patients for transport.”

Ms Kelly added: “We have developed a robust plan with system partners for winter, which looks to reduce demand and improve flow in our hospital by opening additional assessment beds and by improving processes to discharge patients in a timely manner.”

The trust confirmed the winter plan included 70 extra core beds available across the winter period, extra beds in respiratory and three extra adult critical care beds.

The trust is also developing a new clinical assessment facility, which will open in December and provide 30 further beds. 

However, HSJ was told by a source close to the trust, it is having trouble staffing the escalation beds.

In response, the trust confirmed it was recruiting band five and six nurses. 

The trust also declared a black alert in August, which is rare for trusts outside areas attracting a large number of tourists.

The trust declared 15 black alerts between December 2018 and April 2019. Its accident and emergency four-hour performance dipped to as low as 57.2 per cent on one day during the same period.

NUH also faced substantial pressure last winter and declared multiple black alerts, including for the whole of the Nottinghamshire area.