Health professionals say they are under pressure to stay in work to treat people who need urgent care, but that they fear the pressures to keep busy are leading to a lack of staff and doctors.
Winchester Hospital has received a surge of calls about an Ebola patient in its isolation unit.
It was the second Ebola case in less than a week at the hospital, after a nurse in a unit at the top of the block was quarantined on Monday.
“It’s quite challenging,” said Dr Daniella Lai, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Royal London Hospital.
“We’re under pressure.
People are leaving for work.
The pressure is very high.
We’re trying to manage that.
There are so many demands on staff.
We have to get the staff and we have to manage the staff.”
Lai said she had been asked to come up with a plan to keep patients from arriving at the emergency department and had to be reminded of the importance of “working together”.
“We have to work together to ensure the safety of everyone who needs to come into the ward,” she said.
Dr Sarah Cairns, the hospital’s head of infectious diseases, said: “The situation is very challenging for everyone.
We do not have enough staff to deal with the demands.””
[But] it’s also about managing our workload.
We do not have enough staff to deal with the demands.”
Dr Cairnes said she was taking the pressure to “do everything we can” to keep the ward “open” but added that the hospital had been “extremely busy” with its work.
She said the hospital was using a “big picture approach” to look at how to better manage the emergency situation, including prioritising the safety and wellbeing of staff.
Dr Cinna Lai said there were concerns about how staff were working together.
“I think the main concern is how can we manage a situation that is not necessarily the case, but also how can people who are really in a position to make decisions make the best decisions for the patients?” she said, adding that the “need for flexibility” had become an “increasingly important” issue for the hospital.
Dr Lai admitted that the work she had done as a nurse was “not always the most effective”, but she said it was important to have people who could take on that role in the future.
“There are things that we are looking at in terms of the staffing, the ability of the staff to work as a team, and also the ability to manage those workloads,” she told Radio 4’s Today programme.
“The big picture is that we have got to make sure that people can do what they do best, to do it safely and effectively, and that’s why we’re working so hard to make that happen.”
Dr Lani said the isolation unit at Winchester Hospital was “under pressure”.
She said: “[The ward] is very busy.
There’s not enough staff for the workload.
We are seeing a significant number of cases, so it is a concern.
We are seeing the emergence of [Ebola-like] infections, and there are a lot of patients who are at risk.”
It is an area that we need to focus on in terms and the level of care that is being given.
“In the end, what we need is for the community to come together and work together.
That’s what we’re really trying to do.”
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 5,000 people and forced more than 11 million people to flee their homes.