NHS trusts on high alert: Now 24 hospitals reporting ‘critical’ status – is yours one?

Covid-19: Dr Hilary discusses the impact of omicron on the NHS

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Thursday, January 6 that, of the 137 health trusts in the UK, 24 have launched a critical response. The developments follow record levels of daily Covid cases throughout the UK in the past week, with a further 194,747 reported on Wednesday. Hospital admissions have risen in kind, with 17,276 people admitted as of January 4, up from 14,496 on January 1.

When do hospitals declare a critical incident?

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman revealed on Wednesday afternoon that more than 20 NHS trusts had now declared a critical incident.

Mr Shapps’ update on Thursday is the first concrete figure supplied by the Government and reflects an increasing burden on the NHS.

The NHS defines a critical incident as: “Any localised incident where the level of disruption results in the organisation temporarily or permanently losing its ability to deliver critical services, patients may have been harmed or the environment is not safe, requiring special measures and support from other agencies, to restore normal operating functions.”

In short, declaring a critical incident allows trusts to seek additional assistance and local support from partners while paring back non-essential activities, such as teaching and training.

But the circumstances for declaring one and the finer details of how they work differ between trusts.

Decisions on critical incidents don’t come from a central body but hospital trust management.

Some trusts are more willing to trigger them and judge what makes their hospitals vulnerable independently.

The duration will also vary, as situational severity will require some hospitals to knuckle down longer than others.

And they don’t attest to the extent of the current pandemic, with each critical incident a measure of the local, not national pressure.

In his statement on Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s spokesman stressed that this was “not a good indicator necessarily of how the NHS is performing”.

The fluid nature of each incident means the NHS struggles to compile a complete list, as they are liable to change frequently.

Some may not declare an overarching critical incident, however.

Instead, they may opt to announce a suspension of some hospital services.

As such, neither the service nor the Government has released one yet. has identified which trusts have publicly declared critical incidents.

As of January 6, the following hospital trusts have announced hospitals under their care will move to critical incident status:

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

  • Derriford Hospital
  • Royal Eye Infirmary

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

  • Gloucestershire Royal Hospital
  • Cheltenham General Hospitals

Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

  • The Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Wiltshire

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust

  • Furness General Hospital in Barrow
  • The Royal Lancaster Infirmary
  • Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

  • Blackpool Victoria Hospital
  • Clifton Hospital
  • Fleetwood Hospital

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

  • Lincoln County Hospital
  • Grantham and District Hospital
  • Pilgrim Hospital in Boston
  • County Hospital in Louth

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

  • West Suffolk Hospital

Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, which manages 17 locations, announced it would suspend non-essential electives.

The partnership administers the following hospitals:

  • Royal Bolton Hospital
  • Fairfield General Hospital
  • Manchester Royal Infirmary
  • Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
  • University Dental Hospital of Manchester
  • St Mary’s Hospital
  • North Manchester General Hospital
  • The Royal Oldham Hospital
  • Salford Royal Hospital
  • Stepping Hill Hospital
  • Tameside General Hospital
  • Trafford General Hospital
  • Royal Albert Edward Infirmary
  • Wrightington Hospital
  • Leigh Infirmary
  • Wythenshawe Hospital
  • Macclesfield District General Hospital

Chris Hopson, the Chief executive of NHS Providers said the NHS was “stretched like never before” because it was being hit by three simultaneous issues.

These are rising numbers of hospitalisations, staffing shortages, and non-Covid issues which existed before the pandemic.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that around one in 15 people in English private households had Covid for the week ending December 31.

London had the highest infection levels, with one in every 10 people contracting the virus.

Despite the unprecedented levels of Covid within the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs on Wednesday that his Plan B measures were “helping to take the edge off the Omicron wave”, and buying time for the booster campaign to take effect.

Earlier in the day, Mr Johnson revealed that the Cabinet had agreed to keep Plan B rules in place.

The measures will run out later this month, on January 26.

Should they opt for another extension, they will need to pass a vote through the Commons.

The latest data shows that 60.1 percent of the UK population aged 12 or above has received a booster.

On Wednesday, medics administered another 222,824 boosters across the British Isles.

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