RCHT Update: Letter from Secretary of State for Health

From the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

To: Sarah Newton MP, Derek Thomas MP, George Eustice MP,
Scott Mann MP, Sheryll Murray MP and Steve Double MP

10 July 2019

Dear all,

As you know, over the past two weeks, there has been significant pressure on the health and social care system within Cornwall STP. These pressures included Care and Nursing home outbreaks of diarrhoea and vomiting which later affected Royal Cornwall Health Trust (RCHT) causing a significant number of bed closures, poor patient flow through the acute, community and social care system and pressures on both 999 and 111 services.

The NHS in Cornwall is resilient and received a significant increase in funding in April this year, as well as extra capital funding in December last year. We will continue to support the NHS in Cornwall through the pressures caused by this challenging period.

On Tuesday 9th July, Gold Command agreed to declare a critical incident. All system executive partners were requested to join a face to face meeting at RCHT, chaired by the CEO Kate Shields. Gold Command is still in place. My Department has been liaising directly with NHS England and NHS Improvement to understand what actions are being taken to rectify the situation.

These actions include:

  • Additional clinical staff including nurses, doctors and therapists have been brought in for support;
  • Camborne Redruth Community Hospital (CRCH) and West Cornwall Hospital (WCH) have been set up as sub-acute units;
  • Support lines have been made available to ambulance crews as a centralised signposting and advice line to enable conveyance to alternative locations;
  • NHS Kernow have funded a taxi service to divert walk ins from RCHT to CRCH or WCH where safe and appropriate;
  • Cornwall Partnership NHS FT have extended Acute GP hours from 18.30 to midnight in RCHT;
  • Full review of all medically fit and none medically fit patients are taking place to ensure flow through the system.

My Director General of Acute Care and Workforce, Lee McDonough, is discussing these issues with Pauline Philip, the National Director of Urgent and Emergency Care, to gain more assurance that measures are in place to recover performance. She will follow up with the regional director as necessary.

I have asked my officials to keep me updated on these discussions.

Yours ever,



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