With Stevenage's Lister Hospital experiencing ongoing pressure that means it is "unable to deliver comprehensive care" and is causing "increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised," the chief operating officer says a 'reset week' has had "notable successes".

For weeks, Lister has been at OPEL4 - Operations Pressure Escalation Levels 4 - which is defined by the NHS as when "pressure in the local health and social care system continues to escalate, leaving organisations unable to deliver comprehensive care". The NHS framework says OPEL4 means "there is increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised" and "decisive action" must be taken "to recover capacity and ensure patient safety".

To alleviate pressure by improving patient flow, Lister has run a 'reset week', with the target of achieving 100 discharges per day.

Lucy Davies, chief operating officer at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister, said initiatives included supporting staff in the emergency department, as well as "focusing efforts on efficiently discharging medically optimised patients".

All non-essential meetings were stood down and only essential training took place, with staff advised to only send urgent emails.

Lucy said: “We used our reset week to try new ideas and initiatives to improve patient flow through the hospital, with some notable successes.

"More patients were able to go home sooner to recover, our average wait in the emergency department (ED) reduced by an hour, and people were seen more quickly by specialty doctors in ED. We are now making these [changes] permanent to improve patient experience.

“You can support us by attending our New QEII Hospital Urgent Treatment Centre in Welwyn Garden City, which can treat a range of conditions including suspected broken limbs, strains and sprains or cuts and grazes. You can also ask your local pharmacist for advice on where is best for you to be treated.

“But please remember it is crucial you seek emergency care for any chest pain, stroke symptoms or life or limb-threatening injuries and illnesses – we are here to help.”

In June, a critical incident was declared at Lister due to "huge demand" on the emergency department, and roof leaks forcing ward closures.