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Covid-19: Many hospitals “are not declaring critical incidents” despite severe pressures

BMJ 2022; 376 doi: (Published 11 January 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;376:o60

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  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. The BMJ

The number of official critical incidents declared by NHS hospital trusts is likely to massively underestimate the real severity of the situation in NHS acute care, a senior leader has told The BMJ.

Last week at least 24 of England’s 137 NHS trusts officially declared critical incidents, many of which were driven by staff absences because of covid-19. But while declaring a critical incident is the formal mechanism for signalling that priority services at the organisation may be under threat,1 other trusts have opted not to declare one despite struggling with similar levels of patient demand and staff absences.

For example, hospitals in Greater Manchester suspended some non-urgent appointments and surgery because of workload pressures but did not declare a critical incident.

Nick Scriven, past president of the Society …

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