Project Description

On call to help – urgent out of hours support for NHS Northamptonshire

On New Year’s Eve, Northamptonshire’s two NHS acute trusts were facing major capacity problems and system partners agreed urgent communications support was required.

Northampton General Hospital (NGH) and Kettering General Hospital (KGH) were seeing a big increase in A&E visits – putting extra pressure on beds amid rising winter demand.

With both trusts concerned about a further surge in attendances over the next 24 hours, NHS Nene and NHS Corby clinical commissioning groups asked us to coordinate urgent public-facing messages on behalf of the Northamptonshire system.

The request for support was initially made to the CCGs’ comms lead and, with limited time to respond that evening, it was passed to our on call service.

Solution

To support system partners (on New Year’s Day) the NEL media on call service:

  • Drafted a media release urging people to use alternative services where possible, remain at home if they were displaying symptoms of norovirus, and encouraging relatives of patients leaving hospital to support them to return home
  • Contacted the on call directors at NGH and KGH; shared the proposed media release for their approval; and revised the draft as requested
  • Contacted the Northants CCGs’ director on call service for final sign-off, then liaised with the CCGs’ joint chief executive to finalise the release
  • Issued the release to the local media
  • Wrote and issued lines on Twitter in line with the key public messages, and in response to the ongoing local issues as directed by the CCGs’ urgent care lead.

The tweets were well supported, with a number of likes and retweets from followers (including colleagues at NGH and KGH) ensuring wide dispersal of the core messages. The urgent care lead welcomed our support and the creativity of these posts.