Health campaigners are warning of a crisis after an overwhelmed trust declared so-called “black alerts” at both of its hospitals.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax, declared the alert last month after its adult beds filled to capacity.
A hospital declares a black alert – the most severe alert – when it can take no more patients.
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During a black alert ambulances may be diverted to other hospitals and patients can be left waiting on trolleys until a bed becomes available.
Trust chief operating officer Helen Barker admitted that the trust had suffered an “extremely challenging” day.
She said: “The black reported level referred to a single day where the situation across the entire trust was extremely challenging, all the adult hospital beds were full and we were struggling to deliver our normal services putting pressure on both A&E departments.”
But Ms Barker added that no patient had been diverted and no services had closed on the day.
She said: “Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust, working with its health and social care partners, put in specific control arrangements and was able to manage the very challenging situation without having to divert any patients to other trusts or close any services.”
The alert, believed to have been declared on January 27, is thought to be one of several declared last month.
According to local health campaigner Jenny Shepherd, hospital staff worked extremely hard to make sure emergency and acute patients were cared for safely and compassionately.
Ms Shepherd said the trust cancelled all non-essential work, moved patients fit for care outside the hospitals and brought in additional nurses.
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The trust also kept regular contact with other local health providers, Ms Shepherd said.
While the situation became more manageable overnight, the trust still anticipated high demand for the rest of the week.
But Ms Shepherd warned the situation could get worse under Right Care Right Time Right Place which aims to close Huddersfield’s A&E and centralise emergency care at Calderdale Royal Hospital.
She said: “Why is it a good idea, when our hospitals are on black alert at almost the drop of a hat, to centralise all planned care in one hospital and all acute and emergency care in the other, so patients are travelling hither and yonder, and distances to A&E increase for over a quarter of a million people?”