'Critical incident' declared for Leicester health services

Health services in Leicester have declared a critical incident as ‘hundreds of people’ have been left waiting for hours to be seen.
Leicester Royal InfirmaryLeicester Royal Infirmary
Leicester Royal Infirmary

The University of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) is asking people to call 111 before taking themselves to the A&E department at Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI).

The trust posted on social media that it was experiencing a very high demand for services across its hospitals.

By calling 111, people will be “directed more quickly and easily” to a “better place” for their needs, the trust said.

The LDRS understood that yesterday (Tuesday) around 200 people were waiting for care and 10 ambulances at the LRI.

One person claimed on social media that ‘seriously ill people were waiting for nine hours in the back of ambulances’. This claim has not been verified by the trust.

Dr Nil Sanganee, chief medical officer at the NHS in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, said hospitals are currently seeing a high number of patients seeking care.

There are also challenges with ambulance handovers and hospitals are struggling to discharge many patients either home or into other care settings.

The critical incident is not isolated to the hospitals alone – pressures are being experienced across the local health care network.

Mr Sanganee apologised for the ‘longer than usual’ waits for care people are currently experiencing.

He said yesterday: “The Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board declared a critical incident to help protect patient safety due to significant pressures on local services.

"There is currently significant demand for all services with hospitals seeing a high number of patients needing care, a challenging ambulance handover situation and limited ability to discharge patients to onward care or home.

“This means all local NHS services and particularly the Emergency Department at the Leicester Royal Infirmary and Clinical Decisions Unit at Glenfield Hospital are incredibly busy and people may have longer than usual waits for their care. We apologise to anyone affected by this.

“The safety of patients and the wellbeing of our colleagues remain our top priorities as we work together to care for the people who need us.”

He added: “We urge people to only attend the Emergency Department if they have a life-threatening injury or illness. If your condition is urgent but not life-threatening, please call 111 or use the NHS 111 online service to get advice and care in the best place for your needs.

People can also help us is by supporting our NHS teams to get relatives home from hospital if they are medically fit to leave.”

UHL also declared a critical incident last winter across all three of its hospitals, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Glenfield Hospital and Leicester General Hospital.

It was declared on on Friday, December 30, 2022, and stood down 48 hours later on Sunday, January 1.

The trust said at the time it was experiencing ‘high patient attendances’, while ambulance handovers were “challenging” and staff had ‘limited ability’ to discharge people from the hospital, meaning beds were not being freed up for incoming patients.

A number of measures are triggered when a critical incident is declared. This includes opening up extra capacity in care homes and making extra appointments available in doctors surgeries.

Related topics: