Patients NHS Hospitals In Devon Implement ‘Highest Level Of Escalation’ As Pressures Mount Amid Junior Doctors’ Strike

Image of a Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital & Ambulance.

Image of a Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital & Ambulance. Credit: Lewis Clarke/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

THE current strike action by junior doctors in Devon has forced NHS bosses to place hospitals on the ‘highest level of escalation’.

NHS officials in South-West England blamed the extra pressures brought about as the result of five days of industrial action by members of the British Medical Association (BMA) and insisted the measures were ultimately designed to protect the well-being of patients.

In light of these continued pressures, NHS facilities in the county have entered what is known as OPEL 4, which is the highest possible escalation level. Specifically, it means that organisations are currently unable to deliver comprehensive health care.

With this situation in force, it is possible that patients in need of hospital treatment could find ambulances in Devon, and also parts of Cornwall, having to transport them to alternative emergency departments away from their areas.

Patients could be assessed when arriving at A&E

Patients attending A&E departments, who are not critically ill, could find clinicians assessing all those arriving and, where a patient’s needs can be safely met by a different service or at a different time, they will be redirected to that service.

‘A walk-out by junior doctors from 7 am on Wednesday, September 20, until 7 am on Saturday, September 23 has left many hospitals facing difficulties in filling rotas, especially over the next two evenings (Thursday and Friday)’, said a statement from NHS Devon.

It continued: ‘Although consultants ended their separate 48-hour strike on Thursday morning, there remain far fewer clinical staff in hospital emergency departments than usual and the NHS in Devon has now entered OPEL 4 – the highest level of escalation – in light of the continued pressures’.

The measures are designed to keep patients safe

Speaking with the BBC, Nigel Acheson, Devon’s chief medical officer explained: ‘We have been doing everything we can to keep patients and colleagues safe through this period of extreme pressure due to the industrial action’.

He continued: ‘We are ready to put in place all measures needed to make sure we can look after the people who most desperately need our help’.

‘We are counting on the understanding of local people at this difficult time and we encourage everyone to follow the advice we are giving today’, Mr Acheson added.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at