Extra beds for Leeds hospitals to deal with winter surge

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HOSPITAL bosses are planning to open an additional 73 beds in Leeds to cope with an influx of patients over winter.

The extra beds are among measures set to be introduced to deal with the traditional increase in the number of people needing hospital care during the colder months.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has been allocated £5.2m to fund the moves, which will also pay for extra medical staff, extended opening hours in assessment areas and an increase in radiology services.

However hospital directors have been warned that the opening of 30 of the beds in a dedicated ward at St James’s Hospital is dependent on having enough nursing staff.

The issue has arisen despite a recruitment campaign and contingency plans to bring in eight nurses from elsewhere in the trust are being drawn up.

Suzanne Hinchliffe, chief nurse at the hospitals trust, said their Winter Plan was based around trying to avoid the need for hospital admissions, shorten hospital stays and arrange for patients to be discharged in a timely way.

“We started the planning in May to look at what happened in 2013/14 and to review the lessons learned,” she said.

The funding will pay for the extra beds, which are split between St James’s Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary, including a 30-bedded ward at St James’s Hospital.

However the development of this winter ward could be at risk from a lack of staff.

Other risks include delays in transferring patients from hospital, and Prof Hinchliffe said they were working with other health bodies to tackle this. They are also reminding people only to come to A&E in an emergency.

A further 16 beds are being opened by Leeds Community Healthcare.