New data shows how hospitals in Bristol are coping during Omicron surge

Hundreds of patients have been kept waiting in ambulances while critical care beds are taken up by more than 80 per cent, according to the statistics

<p>A ambulance leaves the Accident and Emergency department of the Bristol Royal Infirmary (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)</p>

A ambulance leaves the Accident and Emergency department of the Bristol Royal Infirmary (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The stress on hospitals in Bristol has been laid bare after NHS England released new data on delayed ambulance handover times and hundreds of staff absences as Omicron surges throughout the city.

The data covers the week leading up to December 19.

Hospitals in the city remain in their highest stage of alert, known as Opel 4, and are gearing up for the fallout of a sharp rise in Covid cases along with the flu season which usually begins in January.

Hundreds of patients kept waiting in ambulances

At the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, 762 patients arrived at hospital via ambulance during the week leading up to December 19, with 255 patients experiencing handover delays greater than 60 minutes and 185 experiencing handover delays between 30 and 60 minutes.

This meant that 57.4% of handovers were delayed by over 30 minutes, the second worst rate in the country.

During the previous week, 58.31% of handovers were delayed by over 30 minutes.

A ambulance leaves the Accident and Emergency department of the Bristol Royal Infirmary (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The figures show that during the week leading up to December 19 along with the week previous, there were no ambulance handover delays under the North Bristol NHS Trust.

Critical care beds taken up by more than 80%

Critical care beds under the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust were occupied by 89.2% in the week leading up to December 19, up from 89.0% the week before.

Under the North Bristol NHS Trust, critical care beds were occupied by 87.27% in the week leading up to December 19, up from 77.9% the week before.

Trusts hit by staff absences

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust were hit with 547 average daily staff absences in the week leading up to December 19, with 517 members of staff off the previous week.

175 of these absences were for coronavirus-related reasons.

Associate Practitioner Alex Iheanacho (right) administers a booster coronavirus vaccine to Shona McCauley (left) at a Covid vaccination centre at Elland Road in Leeds, as the booster vaccination programme continues across the UK. Picture: Danny Lawson

At the North Bristol NHS Trust, there were 419 daily average staff absences in the week leading up to December 19 (up from 403 the week before) - 105 of these were linked to Covid-19.

NHS leaving ‘no stoned unturned’ to get ‘battle ready’ for Omicron

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “The NHS is on a war footing and staff are taking the fight to omicron, by boosting hundreds of thousands of people each day, treating thousands of seriously ill covid patients and delivering urgent care for other conditions, all while seeing a worrying, high and rising increase in absence due to Covid.

“We are once again ramping up to deal with the rise in covid infections, and quite rightly staff are making every possible preparation for the uncertain challenges of omicron, including recruiting thousands of nurses and reservists.

“But while we’ll leave no stone unturned to get the NHS battle ready, it remains the case that the best way to protect yourself and others is to follow guidance and to come forward and get your first, second and booster jabs.”

BristolWorld has contacted the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and North Bristol NHS Foundation Trust for comment.