Critical incident across Surrey Heartlands

Due to the significant ongoing pressure on local NHS services, alongside the need to act swiftly to ensure patients continue to receive safe, high quality care, Surrey Heartlands Health and Care System, has declared a critical incident across local health services.

Across Surrey, as well as an increase in demand on GP services, record numbers of people are calling NHS111, attending A&E and calling 999. There are also ongoing challenges in discharging patients who are well enough to leave hospital to create capacity for patients coming in, as well as an increase in staff sickness – all of which unfortunately has led to longer waits for patients to receive the care they need.

Because of these pressures, the Surrey Heartlands Health and Care System has taken the decision to escalate to a critical incident so that additional steps can be taken to maintain safe services for patients and to help cope with the growing pressures.

Unfortunately, this does mean local organisations may need to reschedule some non-urgent operations, treatments and outpatient appointments to accommodate those patients with the most urgent clinical need. People should attend appointments unless they are contacted; cancer and other most urgent operations continue to be prioritised.

All NHS teams across the region continue to work exceptionally hard; and despite the challenges faced and some changes to non-urgent appointments, please be assured that essential services remain fully open for anyone who needs them so if you require urgent medical help, please continue to come forward.

The public can help manage these periods of demand by ensuring they are seeking help from the most appropriate health services, and only attending A&E for serious accidents and emergencies. If you are unwell, see NHS 111 online for 24/7 advice about the most appropriate care for your needs or call NHS 111, although phone lines remain very busy.

Update as of 12th January 2023

On Saturday 7th January 2023, the Surrey Heartlands health and care system moved from a critical incident into a business continuity incident. This was in place until 12th January 2023, when the system moved out of business continuity incident. This reflected a significant amount of work by teams across the system, resulting in an improved position, although services remain busy and work continues to address some ongoing challenges.

The advice above continues to apply if people need to access health advice – you can help your local NHS by using the right service so we can make sure people who are critically ill are seen as quickly as possible.

Surrey Heartlands would like to thank everyone working in the system, across all services and all organisations, for everything they continue to do as they care for, and support, patients and their families during what continues to be a very busy time.