Hemel Hempstead resident raises concerns over shortage of beds at Watford Hospital

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But the trust says it is not about number of beds the hospital it has, it is the number of beds they can use due to staffing and infection control measures

A woman from Hemel Hempstead has raised concerns over a shortage of beds at Watford Hospital after a family member was unable to be transferred closer to home after an operation at a hospital in London.

She says they have been trying to get her back to Watford for follow up care, physio and respite but they have been told there are no beds there.

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The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) says it is not about number of beds the hospital has but rather the number they can use due to staffing and infection control measures.

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A spokesperson for the trust says the hospital is focused on 'keeping our patients safe and prioritising those with the greatest need'.

The trust declared a business continuity incident due to capacity pressures on November 29, the incident was stood down on December 10.

The woman, who does not wish to be named, said: "We have been trying to move her back for over two weeks. They have no beds. There are more people coming into the hospital than going out.

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"I know three people who have relatives wanting to go from Watford Hospital into care or respite, but there are no beds there either.

"I have been phoning for over a week now.

"My relative urgently needs physio, as well as speech therapy. The hospital in London can not give that as they are only for urgent surgeries. She needs to come to Watford Hospital."

A WHHT spokesperson said: “We are continuing to experience extremely high attendances and admissions at the same time as having a number of staff absent because they are following strict self-isolation guidelines or are unwell.

“Additionally, we have to manage our inpatients according to their infection status and this means that we cannot use all of our beds fully whilst we have heightened infection control measures in place, such as the type of cleaning required and the length of time needed before we can admit patients to areas where there have been Covid cases.

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“The volume of very unwell patients needing our care, combined with complex bed management processes and staff absence leads to significant capacity pressures.

"This is a common picture across the country and is not particular to Watford General Hospital.

“It’s important for readers to understand that the issue is not the number of beds we have, it’s the number of beds we can use due to our staffing and infection control measures.

“Like other hospitals, we are focusing on treating keeping our patients safe and prioritising those with the greatest need.

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“The current pressures also mean that transferring patients between hospitals is harder to arrange than at times when we aren’t dealing with a pandemic.

“Hospitals are here for people who need them but unless it is an absolute emergency, we urge people to contact NHS111 first for urgent care. NHS111 advisors can make appointments for patients to be seen in A&E or by a GP.”