Hospital sends patients to stay in hotel to relieve pressure on wards

A generic stock photo of the entrance sign inside the Royal United Hospital Bath grounds. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Royal United Hospital is sending non-urgent care patients to stay in a nearby hotel. (Getty)

A hospital is relieving pressure on its wards by sending patients who no longer need urgent care to a nearby hotel.

The hotel in Bath, Somerset, is taking in the group of patients from the 650-bed Royal United Hospital in the city.

Private care provider Abicare is deploying agency staff at the ''care hotel'' - which the NHS is not naming - to provide 24-hour care support for up to 17 people.

This comes amid enormous pressure on the NHS in the wider country.

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Not only does it continue to endure high COVID staff absences, but it's doing so while dealing with the usual high number of winter hospital admissions exacerbated by the pandemic.

The Royal United Hospitals Trust itself had declared a critical incident at the end of December, though this was stood down a fortnight ago.

Trust chief executive Cara Charles-Barks presented the hotel scheme as allowing non-urgent care patients to recover "in a more appropriate environment".

“We really don’t want patients who are well enough to leave hospital to stay with us for any longer than they need to.

“Opening the new ward and the care hotel are positive steps to support people’s ongoing recovery in a more appropriate environment and ensure hospital beds are there for people with acute medical needs.”

Meanwhile, another temporary ward has also been opened at St Martin’s Hospital in Bath. It will provide beds for patients who need therapeutic or nursing support or who are waiting to return home.

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Ambulance handovers delayed by at least 30 minutes at hospitals in England. (PA)
Ambulance handovers delayed by at least 30 minutes at hospitals in England. (PA)

While COVID-related absences of NHS staff in England's hospitals are falling, they are still higher than before Christmas.

An average of 30,375 NHS staff at hospital trusts in England were ill with COVID or having to self-isolate each day in the week to Sunday.

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This was down 15% on the average of 35,555 the previous week, but still nearly double the 17,836 average absences in the seven days to 19 December.

Meanwhile, it was the busiest week for ambulances taking patients to A&E since the start of December: up almost 2,000 from two weeks ago.

NHS England’s national medical director Prof Stephen Powis said: “Our staff have already had what feels like a long winter

"But despite everything they have had to contend with, they continue to step up as they always do - answering thousands more 111 calls last week than the seven days before, continuing to care for thousands of COVID patients and maintaining non-COVID procedures, and working closely with colleagues in social care to get people out of hospital safely.”