Hospital put on "black alert", GPs told to avoid referring patients to A&E

21 July 2014

Hospital put on "black alert", GPs told to avoid referring patients to A&E

Addenbrooke's Hospital, one of the country's most renowned teaching hospitals, is facing "severe" patient capacity issues and GPs have been warned to think twice before sending patients to A&E services there.

Cambridge University Hospitals wrote to GPs, ambulance services and four other nearby hospitals less than two weeks ago to warn them that Addenbrooke’s Hospital was unable to deal with excessive numbers of patients.

Instead of sending patients to A&E, GPs have been asked to have the patients assessed through an ambulatory care service but only after discussing the referral with an on-call doctor, the hospital said.

The hospital has been on black alert, which indicates the highest possible level of capacity crisis, since early July.

It is not the first time the hospital been placed on black alert -it was placed on black alert for 190 days in 2012-13 alone, with awaited figured for 2013-14 anticipated to show a troubling rise. 

The letter said that the trust was experiencing ‘severe’ capacity issues across all areas. Cambridge University Hospital released a statement through its on call director, Amanda Kahn, who wrote: ‘We have planned admissions on hold. We have contingency areas open. We are no longer able to place patients from the Emergency Department. We have critical staffing levels.

She added: ‘If you do phone GP liaison to refer a patient, please be proactive to considering whether your patient can be assessed on EAU (Emergency Assessment Unit)'

If you or a loved one has experienced medical mistreatment or poor care at Addenbrooke's Hospital or any nearby hospital, the specialist teams at are able to provide you with advice, guidance and assistance about how to best raise a complaint or start a medical negligence claim if you feel the care and treatment received was especially poor. Our FREE helpline can advise you of your patient rights.