Wales’ biggest hospital has triggered the highest alert because of a “significant and sustained adverse demand” on services. Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said there were particular problems within in the Emergency Unit at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

On Tuesday (November 7) a ‘Business Continuity Incident’ was issued. Each of Wales’ health boards has five levels of escalation which determine how pressured its services are. More details are here. A Business Continuity Incident is the highest level 5 and is also known as a black alert.

A statement from the hospital said the alert was as the result of “winter operational pressures, coupled with coupled with limited bed availability”. The statement added that is “attributed to lengthy patient discharges, the Health Board is currently experiencing unprecedented ambulance delays.”

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They said the Health Board continues to “work collaboratively with colleagues from the Local Authorities to support the onward discharge of medically fit patients from home”.

During a black alert, the health board diverts staff from non-acute areas of healthcare, they also enlist the help of more agency staff. It often coincides with an urgent plea to the public to help get their loved ones discharged from hospitals as soon as they’re medically fit to do so, rather than waiting for packages of care to be set up.

At this stage, there is no disruption to elective and clinical appointments which continue to operate as usual, although this is under review during the course of today.

The health board are appealing for people to attend the Emergency Unit, only if you are experiencing:

Severe breathing difficulties

Severe pain or bleeding

Chest pain or a suspected stroke

Serious trauma injuries e.g. a car accident

The statement added: “To support colleagues to prioritise the care and immediate needs of patients who require urgent medical attention, we are appealing to members of the public within the communities to use services appropriately.

“There has been a recent increase in patients self-presenting with long-standing medical issues that can be effectively managed outside of the emergency unit and/or a hospital setting.”

People are being asked to call or visit NHS 111 Wales Symptom Checker for further support if they are feeling weel. Alternatively, phone 111 where your condition will be assessed and an appointment time offered (where required).

GPs are the Primary Choice for long-standing medical conditions that need reviewing.

The statement ended: “Please be patient and respectful to colleagues who are working under unprecedented pressure to care for patients during this challenging time.”

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