ADDITIONAL staff have been drafted in to help Barnsley Hospital deal with winter pressures over the coming months.

Two emergency consultants, six health care assistants and four administrative staff will help ease the pressure on doctors and nurses with another four nursing staff and two doctors to help with 'care for the elderly'.

It's part of the hospital's plan to improve patient flow and reduce waiting times.

John Cartwright, interim urgent care lead, said: "We've been planning for winter since the end of last winter, it's going to be busy.

"It's not that we see more patients, it's that the patients we see are more ill.

"We do see an increased number of frail and elderly people coming in with respiratory problems.

"All emergency departments get a high number of patients who could be treated more appropriately elsewhere.

"No one is turned away but it's about trying to make sure the patient is in the right place at the right time."

A resuscitation unit is already open and is being used to treat the most ill patients within the accident and emergency department.

An area with chairs has also been set up within the Acute Medical Unit where patients who may not necessarily need admitting to hospital can be treated, monitored and discharged.

A 'clinical decision' unit is also set to open in the coming months, where patients are pulled from the accident and emergency department and can stay in the unit for up to 12 hours before being admitted or discharged.

Signs are also being put up asking patients if they really need accident and emergency treatment and to encourage patients to visit their GP and pharmacies before attending.

John added: "All these things are about reducing waiting times for patients and I think these things will work.

"The biggest thing is the development of the clinical decision unit within the emergency department and the expansion of the resuscitation unit from three to five beds.

"The chaired area is working quite nicely, there are up to 20-25 discharges a day and few admissions have been avoided, so it's been effective already."

The hospital has been monitored regularly after failing to meet the national target for waiting times of 95 per cent of patients dealt with in four hours.

However, John said it was on track to meet the target for the last three months at the end of December.