The NHS in winter: how is St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust coping with seasonal pressures?

We have pulled together a round-up of how St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust handled the week from December 9 to 15.
We have pulled together a round-up of how St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust handled the week from December 9 to 15.

As the colder weather takes its toll on the health of the nation, we have looked into how well St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is coping with winter pressures.


During winter, NHS England publishes weekly reports which give insight into how well hospital trusts are managing – looking at ambulance delays, bed occupancy and long stays in hospitals.

We have pulled together a round-up of how St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust handled the week from December 9 to 15.

Ambulance waits

Last week, 662 patients were brought by ambulance to A&E at the trust. The busiest day was Tuesday, when 101 patients arrived.

Over the week, 290 arrivals waited 30 minutes or more to be transferred to the emergency department – despite NHS guidelines saying all patients should be transferred within 15 minutes.

Of these, 167 patients waited an hour or longer.

The number of people arriving by ambulance last week was a slight increase on the previous seven days, when 651 were recorded.

Bed availability

General and acute wards at the trust were 97.8% full on average last week – significantly above the 85% rate the British Medical Association suggests should not be exceeded to ensure safe patient care.

The occupancy rate was slightly higher than the 97.2% recorded the previous week.

Above 92%, NHS Improvement says that deterioration in A&E performance begins to accelerate.

St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust was more than 92% full every day last week.

On average, the trust had 697 beds available to use each day last week , including 34 escalation beds, which are used in emergencies and periods of high demand. Just 15 beds were free on an average day.

Long-stay patients

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, hospital staff are being encouraged to reduce lengthy hospital stays for patients recovering from an operation or illness. NHS England says the move is aimed at improving care options and freeing up 7,000 beds nationally – the equivalent of 15 large hospitals.

On Sunday, 386 patients had been in hospital for seven days or more at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust. They accounted for 56% of all beds occupied.

Occupying 20% of beds, 140 patients had been in hospital for three weeks or longer.

Commenting on the national picture last week, a spokesperson for the NHS said: “Hospitals now have more beds open than this time last year, but flu and norovirus have kicked in a bit earlier so are adding pressure at a time when the NHS is already looking after significantly more people than ever before.

“The NHS has already looked after 1 million more people in A&E this year compared to last, and as we head into the holiday period it’s really important that the public help our hard-working staff by getting their flu vaccine now, using the free NHS 111 phone and online service for urgent medical needs, seeing their local pharmacist for minor ailments and ensuring they are stocked up on the medication they need.”