The worst is yet to come – Black Country and West Birmingham hospital chiefs are preparing for the summit in January

Ambulance and hospital managers are facing what could be “the worst winter ever” – with plans in place to try to ease the risk for patients.

At a briefing today, health executives across the Black Country and West Birmingham areas outlined how they intended to keep patients safe and prevent staff being overwhelmed, including extra beds, faster discharge schedules and fewer patients being taken to hospitals. .

But Richard Beeken, new CEO of Sandwell and the West Birmingham NHS Trust – which operates City and Sandwell hospitals – warned that the pressure would continue. Detailed day-by-day modeling has indicated that demand will peak in mid-January.

It bodes ill for a service that is already facing an unprecedented increase – including record-breaking 999 calls, huge increases in doctor visits and crowded hospitals, where Covid continues to circulate at a high level in society.



Richard Beeken, CEO of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust

But Mr Beeken and his other health system executives from Walsall, Dudley and Wolverhampton said they had anticipated and made contingency plans for the winter rise, with high hopes that elective surgery would continue at a pace and improvements in cancer diagnosis and treatment rates would be maintained.

“This is going to be the toughest winter we’ve ever seen,” Mr Beeken warned at the virtual media briefing.

He urged residents to help by getting vaccinated against Covid-19 and the flu and by continuing to follow the instructions on hand washing and face mask.

The West Midlands Ambulance Service moved to its highest risk assessment in its history earlier this month – warning that patients were dying due to the huge level of demand.

READ MORE: Nearly half of all acute patients in Birmingham wait more than four hours to be seen

Mental health services are also facing record highs.

Chris Masikane, Chief Operating Officer of the Black Country Healthcare NHS Trust, announced that a 24-hour mental health helpline operating seven days a week was underway in the region.

The helpline number is free 0800 008 6516 – it is available for all ages and severity of illness and will show the way to specialist help.

Our blog below outlines the measures that are in place throughout the black country – including extra beds, special isolation units, faster discharge schemes and extra capacity in community services.

If you have been hit by delays in services or you want to raise praise for a healthcare professional, please contact us. Email [email protected]

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