BRADFORD's A&E departments have urged people to only attend with life-threatening emergencies amid “extreme pressure”.

Health services across the district are facing soaring levels of demand – including A&E, NHS 111 and 999 care and GP services – and staff shortages.

Hospitals have reported record numbers over the festive season – although a critical incident has not been declared.

One Bradford councillor said he'd been contacted by people over long waits at A&E. 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Airedale Hospital called for the public’s help in reducing patient numbers.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

The spokesperson said: “We need your help! Our healthcare services are under extreme pressure.

“Only come to A&E if it is a genuine life/limb-threatening emergency so we can care for our sickest patients.”

The Green Party in Bradford has condemned the Government and said the situation cannot continue. 

Councillor Matt Edwards, leader of the Green Group on Bradford Council, said: “I have been contacted by Bradford residents waiting seven hours to be seen at A&E in Bradford Royal Infirmary and have heard reports of queues of ambulances outside.

"The Tories are allowing the NHS to disintegrate before our eyes.

“But what is really worrying is that Bradford is not even on the national list of hospitals reporting critical incidents - so there are parts of the country where the situation is far, far worse.

“After twelve years of Conservative Governments, hospitals in the UK are struggling after such a prolonged period of underinvestment. Thousands of hospital beds have been lost across the country as a result of real cuts in funding.

“Add into the mix the devastating cuts to adult social care that have also meant thousands of beds are being occupied by patients ready to discharge but don’t have a care placement to go to. 

“Our country now has some of the least equipped hospitals in Western Europe - the UK has 2.4 hospital beds per 1,000 people. Meanwhile in Germany it’s 7.8 - over three times as many. We just can’t carry on like this.”

Shipley town councillor Darren Parkinson, who works as a learning disability nurse in the NHS, revealed what he sees first-hand on duty.

The Green Party representative said: “I see first-hand the demands that the NHS is under with waiting lists increasing year on year.

"Nurses are struggling with the cost of living due to the real terms pay cut being imposed by the Tory Government.

"I have spoken to my nurse colleagues on the picket line at Bradford Royal Infirmary and I know they are under huge pressure and need the Government to invest in the NHS and to pay nurses fairly.

“We are told that a fair pay increase is unaffordable but the Government is happy to spend billions on a failed track and trace system, dodgy PPE contracts or tax cuts for the most wealthy, but nurses are told that they don't deserve a pay rise. This is outrageous.”

The Government did not wish to respond to the claims when contacted by the Telegraph & Argus, but the Prime Minister’s official spokesman yesterday acknowledged that the current pressure on the health service was an “unprecedented challenge”.

He said: “I think we are confident we are providing the NHS with the funding it needs – and as we did throughout the pandemic – to deal with these issues.

“I think we have been up front with the public long in advance of this winter that because of the pandemic and the pressures it’s placed in the backlog of cases that this would be an extremely challenging winter, and that is what we are seeing.”

He told reporters the pandemic was among the biggest causes of the current pressures on the NHS, but also pointed to delayed discharges as a reason.

He said it was an issue the Government had “recognised and have been seeking to address this year with additional funding into the system”.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought the NHS was in crisis, his spokesman said: “This is certainly an unprecedented challenge for the NHS brought about, as I say, by a number of factors.”

Downing Street said the Government is doing “everything possible” to increase the number of beds available amid concerns about pressure on the NHS.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The NHS is already maximising its number of beds, so the equivalent of 7,000 additional beds, plus funding for discharges and increasing virtual wards. That’s all to free up capacity.

“Again, that’s all thanks to the extra funding, the billions of extra pounds we’ve put in.

“We are doing everything possible to increase the number of beds."

Meanwhile, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said a high number of patients have been attending Bradford Royal Infirmary’s A&E department with flu symptoms.

In an urgent message to those with flu symptoms, the Trust said most people do not need medical care or antibiotics.

Instead, people should call the NHS 111 phone line.

In a previous statement, a spokesperson for the hospital trust said: "We are seeing record numbers of people attending A&E, calling NHS111, accessing GP services and calling 999 as well as those accessing social care, mental health services and services provided by our community and voluntary organisations; ongoing challenges in discharging patients who are well enough to leave hospital to create capacity for patients coming in; and we are seeing an increase in staff sickness - all of which has led to longer waits than we would like for patients to receive the care they need.”

The spokesperson added: “Our teams continue to work exceptionally hard; and we would like to reassure our patients and the public that despite the challenges faced, essential services remain fully open for anyone who needs them so if you require urgent medical help, please continue to come forward.

"People should continue to attend planned appointments unless they are contacted.”

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