Operational Pressures Escalation Levels (OPEL) show the amount of pressure being experienced by hospital, community and emergency health services this winter.
OPEL Level 1 is the lowest level of pressure on the system. OPEL Level 4 is the highest. (See below)
All parts of the Somerset health and social care system (acute and community hospitals, NHS 111, primary care, adult social care, ambulance and community services) work together to manage and reduce the level of pressure (de-escalate) upon their services. This is achieved by making sure patients receive the treatment they need in the right place and at the right time, and are returned home when they are well enough to do so.
You can help yourself and the NHS by "Staying Well this Winter" and treating minor illness or ailments with advice from your local pharmacist or telephoning NHS 111 if you become ill overnight or at weekends. 111 is available 24 hours a day and is free to call from your home or mobile phone.
What are Operational Pressures Escalation Levels (OPEL)?
OPEL 1 - The local health and social care system capacity is such that organisations are able to maintain patient flow and are able to meet anticipated demand within available resources. The Local A&E Delivery Board area will take any relevant actions and ensure appropriate levels of commissioned services are provided. Additional support is not anticipated.
OPEL 2 - The local health and social care system is starting to show signs of pressure. The Local A&E Delivery Board will be required to take focused actions in organisations showing pressure to mitigate the need for further escalation. Enhanced co-ordination and communication will alert the whole system to take appropriate and timely actions to reduce the level of pressure as quickly as possible. Local systems will keep NHS E and NHS I colleagues at sub-regional level informed of any pressures, with detail and frequency to be agreed locally. Any additional support requirements should also be agreed locally if needed.
OPEL 3 - The local health and social care system is experiencing major pressures compromising patient flow and continues to increase. Actions taken in OPEL 2 have not succeeded in returning the system to OPEL 1. Further urgent actions are now required across the system by all A&E Delivery Board partners, and increased external support may be required. Regional teams in NHS E and NHS I will be aware of rising system pressure, providing additional support as deemed appropriate and agreed locally. National team will also be informed by DCO/Sub regional teams through internal reporting mechanisms.
OPEL 4 - Pressure in the local health and social care system continues to escalate leaving organisations unable to deliver comprehensive care. There is increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised. Decisive action must be taken by the Local A&E Delivery Board to recover capacity and ensure patient safety. All available local escalation actions taken, external extensive support and intervention required. Regional teams in NHS E and NHS I will be aware of rising system pressure, providing additional support as deemed appropriate and agreed locally, and will be actively involved in conversations with the system. Where multiple systems in different parts of the country are declaring OPEL 4 for sustained periods of time and there is an impact across local and regional boundaries, national action may be considered.