WHILE the NHS suffers from its worst winter crisis in recent history, the Gibraltar Health Authority has come in for high praise for its emergency health care provision.

A surge in influenza cases over the Christmas period saw 500 people admitted to St Bernard’s Hospital between December 22 and December 27 alone.

Every individual arriving at hospital over the winter period was provided with a bed until they fully recovered.

This could not contrast more with conditions in the UK, with many hospitals unable to provide even one spare bed for a sick patient since the middle of November.  

“I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all GHA staff for their professionalism and dedication in meeting this winter’s increased demand,” said Neil Costa, Minister for Health.

“They truly represent the best of Gibraltar and are a credit to their profession.”

UK hospitals have responded to bed shortages by ‘boarding’ patients onto trolleys and leaving them in corridors to receive treatment.

The Gibraltar Health Authority also confirmed that despite the increased workload for medical professionals over Christmas and New Year, no operations had to be cancelled.

In the UK, an estimated 50,000 non-essential operations were cancelled in January alone due to one of the ‘worst flu seasons they had faced in decades’ and bed shortages.

Number 10 has warned that the ban on non-urgent surgeries could also be extended to February 2018 in further bad news for patients.

“My amazing bed management team at the GHA have been working extremely hard over the last few months to plan for the winter surge in hospital admissions and I am happy to announce that beds have always become available to cater for patients,” said Neil Costa.

“It also gives me enormous, personal satisfaction to learn that no operations were cancelled due to bed shortages since February 2017 given the various reforms introduced.”