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Hospital bosses insist they are coping with winter pressures after Colchester Hospital lifts ‘black alert’

PUBLISHED: 18:04 08 January 2016 | UPDATED: 18:04 08 January 2016

Colchester Hospital.

Colchester Hospital.

Archant

Health chiefs have insisted they are coping with winter demands after one of the region’s main hospitals lifted a “black alert” following three days.

Colchester General Hospital issued a black alert – the highest level, which means it cannot cope with the number of patients – on Tuesday before changing to ‘amber’ this morning.

There were 2,302 A&E attendances at the hospital over the festive period – from December 24 to January 3, an average 209 patients every day, NHS England data showed. Last year, the daily average from December 24 to January 4 was 183.

A Colchester General Hospital spokesman said: “We started this week on amber, which was significantly better than 12 months ago. This was due to many factors, including good planning, excellent collaboration with partner organisations and the traditional reduction in routine surgery over the festive period, which had increased our capacity.

“But as a result of a surge on our emergency department, we went to ‘black’ on Tuesday. To address this, we stepped up our focus on discharging patients who no longer needed to be in an acute hospital bed.

“We went to a ‘better black’ on Wednesday and Thursday and back to amber at 8.30am (yesterday). We are currently in a good place, working closely with our primary care partners, but the situation can change obviously.”

Ipswich Hospital recorded 2,516 A&E attendances from December 24 to January 3. The daily average of 228 is up slightly from 210 last year.

A hospital spokesman said: “We are busy but are coping well. We asked people to only come to A&E with an emergency and people did.”

At West Suffolk Hospital (WSH) in Bury St Edmunds, there were 1,934 A&E attendances from December 24 to January. The daily average of 175 is up from 164 last year.

Jon Green, chief operating officer at WSH, said: “Staff are working hard to make sure that everyone receives safe, effective care.

“We encourage people to consider other healthcare options, such as their GP, pharmacist or NHS 111.”

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