Charing Cross Hospital prepares for ‘challenging winter’

Image above: Charing Cross Hospital

Long waits for A&E likely

Charing Cross Hospital is preparing for a tough winter, anticipating increased demand for emergency services and more strikes by junior doctors.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced two strikes by junior doctors, scheduled for this week and the first week of January. The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) also plans a strike during the same period.

Junior doctor will be on strike from 7.00 am on Wednesday 20 December, to 7.00am on Saturday 23 December, and then from 7.00 am on Wednesday 3 January, to 7.00am on Tuesday, 9 January, 2024.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, including Charing Cross Hospital, warns there will be a significant impact on services during the strikes. Emergency services will operate, but most planned operations and outpatient appointments during the strikes will need to be rescheduled. Patients affected will be contacted for new appointments.

The hospital expects longer waits in A&E and advises people with non-emergency medical issues to use NHS 111 online. For emergency care we should still use 999. The hospital is already facing high demand in A&E and tackling the backlog of long waits for planned care from previous strike periods.

Hospital focuses on reducing ‘unnecessary admissions’

The hospital has received £2.7 million extra funding to expand services and increase staff to speed up patient admissions and discharges. Efforts will focus on caring for older patients to prevent unnecessary admissions, as many elderly people are admitted to hospital and stay far longer than they need to medically, because of the time it takes to sort out their social care.

The NHS is trying to implement ‘same day emergency care’ by expanding critical care outreach teams. Services such as Homelink will help discharge medically fit patients needing support.

Remote patient monitoring through ‘virtual wards’ will continue, a system which was used for more than 1,600 patients last year. The discharge lounge at Charing Cross will stay open till 7 pm to reduce turnaround times for patients waiting to go home.

Claire Hook, the chief operating officer, of Charing Cross, said:

“Our teams have put in a huge amount of work to make the most of our capacity this winter and ensure we continue to provide the best possible care”.