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Critical Care Unit maxed out and hospital beds scarce

Critical Care Unit maxed out and hospital beds scarce

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Critical Care Unit maxed out and hospital beds scarce


Health and Social Care is calling on the community to keep all but essential cases out of the hospital, as bed space becomes scarce.

The Princess Elizabeth Hospital is experiencing an incredibly busy period and has seen a spate of admissions, ranging from falls at home to mental health emergencies.

Due to a shortage of bed space, several elective procedures have been postponed and the Critical Care Unit is at capacity. The PEH is currently running at 87% occupancy and is understood to have been operating at even higher levels of occupancy in recent days. 

“There is the perception that the hospital is quiet post-lockdown, but it is busier than ever,” said Head of Acute Nursing Care, Elaine Burgess.

“Every minute in a hospital bed matters. Our beds are our most precious resource."

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Pictured: The PEH has brought in additional beds to cope with demand and now has 116 spaces.

13 patients are currently delayed in the PEH, waiting for beds or care packages. The problem has been exacerbated by the transfer of Les Bourgs Hospice patients into the hospital while significant remedial works are being done.

HSC staff are encouraging people to avoid lengthy stays in hospital. Speeding up discharges in appropriate circumstances will also help with the capacity shortage. 

“If you are told it is safe for you to be discharged, then we are asking you and your family to make every effort to get you home,” said the Director of Hospital and Adult Community Services, Dermot Mullin.

“Prolonged stays in hospital can be unnecessarily detrimental to your health due to sleep deprivation, increased risk of falls or infections among many other things. It’s not just about protecting bed space."

hospital healthcare

Pictured: “We would never discharge someone if it wasn’t safe to do so,” said Mr Mullin.

The situation raises concerns about the ability for the PEH to service Guernsey’s increasing and ageing population.

“The current capacity issues demonstrate that the hospital can’t meet today’s demand, let alone be fit for the future with an ageing population,” said the Director of Hospital Modernisation, Jan Coleman.

“The hospital modernisation programme will also address a number of areas of clinical risk, which are set to worsen if left unresolved,” she said.

The programme includes the construction of a new Critical Care Unit later this year, with work set to start in October. The lack of critical care beds has a huge impact on hospital efficiency and rectifying this is seen as a top priority for HSC.

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