Bedford Hospital is urging local people not to attend A&E or dial 999 unless it is absolutely necessary, as it works to cope with exceptionally high demand.
All routine operations for today - Thursday, December 18, have been cancelled in a bid to free up beds after a significant increase in emergency admissions of seriously ill patients throughout the week.
Health officials say the next 24 – 48 hours will be incredibly challenging. They are asking the public to think very carefully before coming to A&E and to only attend if their condition is serious or life-threatening and cannot be seen by a GP or pharmacist.
Chief Operating Officer, Eileen Doyle, said: “We are working incredibly hard, alongside local GPs, our commissioners and community services, to manage this difficult situation but we also need the support of the public.
“Patients with serious and life-threatening conditions will always receive priority care and when we are faced with an increase in demand it means that those attending with less serious conditions may have to wait a considerable amount of time.
“A large number of patients who attend A&E with minor injuries and illnesses could be treated elsewhere, so we are urging people think very carefully before coming here and to use other NHS services first, such as their pharmacy, GP, local walk-in centre or 111. Doing so will help us to focus our attention on the most seriously ill patients.”
Ms Doyle added: We don’t take the decision to cancel operations lightly; however, we are dealing with exceptionally high demand and must ensure the safe delivery of our services.
“I would like to apologise sincerely to all patients who have been affected; we will work to reschedule operations as soon as possible.”
Routine outpatient appointments are continuing as normal.