Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin ICS has declared a critical incident due to ‘continued and unprecedented pressure’ across all services in the area.
According to the ICS, it has seen ‘significant and sustained’ demand, with high numbers of patients in hospital and community beds with Covid-19, in addition to non-Covid cases and a high level of staff sickness.
The demand and absences come alongside the ‘additional challenges caused by the continued heat wave’ which has led to ‘significant strain’ on the system.
The ICS said its aim is now to ‘prioritise patients with the highest level of need’, to ensure that it can continue to manage emergency care, and to provide safe care for those in nursing and residential homes.
It said: ‘We regret that it has been necessary to take this step, but it is important that we focus on patients needing urgent and emergency care as a priority.
‘Our teams are continuing to work exceptionally hard, and we would like to reassure the public that despite the challenges faced, our services remain open for anyone who needs them.’
Patients have been advised to use Urgent Care Centres – access via GP referral, NHS 111 or walk-in – four urgent but not life-threatening health problems.
It similarly asked patients with minor injuries to attend minor injury units (MIUs) to ‘allow A&E staff to concentrate on people with serious, life-threatening conditions’.
This comes after data revealed the number of people waiting to start NHS treatment has grown to a record-breaking 6.7 million, with around 355,774 patients waiting more than 52 weeks.
Data also published by NHS England indicated that more than 29,000 emergency patients waited more than 12 hours to be admitted to hospital in July this year, up from just 450 in July 2019.