Thirty extra nurses have been hired to help a hospital cope with the expected surge in demand over winter.
Six consultants have also been taken on at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, while social workers are working seven days a week in a bid to help ease pressure when the cold weather hits.
The move comes after the Wednesfield site came under tremendous pressure in A&E last winter with record numbers of patients pouring through the doors. The recruitment drive forms part of a £2.8m action plan drawn up to avoid a repeat of last year’s problems, which saw patients regularly treated in corridors.
A £2.5million 10-bed extension of the department is due to open next month, while a £500,000 Clinical Decisions Unit – where patients with relatively minor injuries can wait for test results – was unveiled in September. More night nurse managers are also being recruited to help management out of hours.
A total of 5,000 flu vaccines have also been ordered and a campaign will be launched via leaflets and flyers to inform people about the risk of norovirus and how to stop it spreading.
David Loughton, chief executive of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said he was confident the trust had done as much as it could to avoid a repeat of last winter.
He added: “We’re well placed for winter. Lots of things have been put in place and we’re in a much better position than last year. We’ve done as much as we can and we’re still doing as much as we can.”
Earlier this month, A&E at New Cross was once again judged by patients to be among the worst in the country. NHS figures placed the unit as the 10th lowest based on the results of a patient survey.