Operation Wintergreen

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust is preparing to launch Operation Wintergreen. The operation will see more than 8,000 hospital workers band together. Operation Wintergreen has been formed to ease the unprecedented pressure this Winter.

Staff from all departments will be mobilised to support the NHS’s frontline services. The operation was planned due to record numbers of admissions of patients with serious and life-threatening illnesses.

Some Cancellations

In an effort to free up desperately needed resources routine surgeries and some outpatient clinics will be cancelled. This will be for eight days, starting on Monday the 29th. It was not a decision taken lightly, but necessary to free up specialists in cardiology, rheumatology, and respiratory illnesses.

The staff will then be redeployed to work alongside frontline staff at Hull Royal Infirmary’s emergency department. With unprecedented pressure this step was needed as it will reduce the number of admissions to wards. This will free up desperately needed beds.

Some of the 8,000 plus staff are being released from their normal duties to help frontline staff. Staff from departments including office, administration, and HR will be involved. They will act as “runners” so doctors and nurses can spend as much time dealing with patients at possible.

“We have struggled”

Chief Executive Chris Long said:

Since the start of the year, we have struggled not only with an increasing number of patients turning up at A&E but also with the complexity and seriousness of their conditions. We are not alone in experiencing increasing and intense levels of pressure this winter and most acute hospitals in England are in identical positions.

In Hull, as a two-site hospital where the majority of our elective work takes place at Castle Hill Hospital, we have so far managed to avoid cancelling all non-urgent surgery in the way that many other trusts across the country have been doing since NHS England issued guidance in December.

The time has now come, however, for us to take more extensive action and we owe it to our patients and staff to ensure we are there for the people who need us most. As things stand, we are not meeting the four-hour A&E standard, many patients are spending too long in hospital without being able to go home when they are ready and our staff are struggling to cope with this unprecedented level of demand.

While we do not take the decision to cancel operations and outpatient clinics lightly, we are certain the people we care for will fully understand the pressures our NHS is facing and why we have to take further action at this time.

My entire workforce is putting its collective shoulder to the wheel to ensure we make it through the winter and that our patients receive the best and safest care we can deliver.

Chris Long Chief Executive
Chief Executive Chris Long

Notifying Patients

Hospital Staff are in the process of notifying patients whose non-urgent operations will be cancelled. They are also contacting those booked in for routine outpatient appointments too.

Patients with long-term conditions who would be adversely affected by the cancellations and postponements will not be affected.

Michelle Kemp, director of operations for Family and Women’s Health Group said:

We are already in the process of contacting patients who are directly affected and we are endeavouring to give people as much notice as possible.

We ask that patients continue to turn up for their surgery or their appointments unless they hear from us directly.

At this stage, we do not know exactly how many operations or appointments will be cancelled but we will only cancel where we are assured patients will suffer no immediate clinical harm as a consequence.

We will only cancel appointments and operations where staff are to be diverted to productive roles alongside our emergency teams and we are working closely with our outpatients teams to ensure cancellations are kept to a minimum.

By releasing our clinical teams from their other duties for a short period of time, we will be able to prioritise the care of our emergency patients, the people who need us most.

Running Close To Capacity

The Trust is hoping Operation Wintergreen will help lower bed occupancy at the two sites. Currently the hospitals are running at 95% occupancy, well above the 85% recommended for optimum patient safety.

Additional staff will be drafted onto wards to help ensure patients can be treated. This will enable them to return home as quickly as possible.

Chief Operation Officer Ellen Ryabov said:

By taking this action now, we hope to be in a far better position within ten days to cope with any potential impact of flu or a continuation of the recent increase in patient acuity that we have seen in recent weeks.

The trust’s senior leadership team will be continually monitoring and assessing the impact of our decision to cancel elective work and how this benefits our emergency patients. We can then flex the deployment of additional staff resources to areas where we will see the greatest benefit for patients and frontline teams.

By working together, the trust’s army of staff are proving, once again, their priority lies in delivering the best possible patient care.

News At A Glance

Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital are set to cancel non-essential operations. This is due to unprecedented pressure this Winter.

Operation Wintergreen will see staff from all departments band together to help treat as many patients as possible. This will help to free up desperately needed beds on wards.

Essential and emergency operations will not be effected. Patients are told to still show up unless they hear from the hospital.