Boss of Ipswich and Colchester hospital wants to ‘quadruple number of ICU beds’

Nick Hulme, chief executive of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust Picture: ARCHAN

Nick Hulme, chief executive of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals says he is “anxious” of the Easter weekend as he reveals he wants to quadruple the number of ICU beds for coronavirus patients.

Nick Hulme, who heads up the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), said the hospitals are training and preparing clinical staff for the upcoming peak and they are hoping to extend the numbers of ventilators and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds.

This morning he told BBC Radio Suffolk that the trust is “seeing relatively low numbers compared to the rest of the UK” but is expecting to see a peak over the coming days and weeks and “wants to quadruple the number of ICU beds”.

He said the situation “changes every day” but there is a clear impact of people staying at home.

“The danger is of course that we become complacent,” said Mr Hulme. “We are very anxious that people will ignore the advice and go outside, especially over the Easter weekend.”

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Despite this, Mr Hulme urged those with concerns about their health, which is not Covid-19 related, to “not be fearful” of going to hospital.

He said the hospital trust has seen a “significant reduction of those attending A&E”, but is concerned that people are getting ill at home and are leaving it because of their worries about visiting the hospitals.

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He said this could have a “detrimental effect” on people’s health and urged people to visit the hospital if required.

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He also told the BBC that the trust currently has enough personal protective equipment and the most high-risk staff have the “very best equipment”.

“This is completely unprecedented in the millions and millions of bits that are needed by the NHS in the next weeks and months,” said Mr Hulme.

He confirmed there are no immediate plans to build an extension to either of the hospitals Intensive Care Units, like what is being done at Addenbrooke’s, and said they will “work across the region” so that they have enough staff for the numbers of beds.

He said there are currently several hundred members of staff who are self-isolating due to either showing symptoms or living with a family member who has symptoms of Covid-19.

If this number increases significantly Mr Hulme says the trust won’t have enough staff for the numbers of beds.

He also sent his well wishes to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is currently in the Intensive Care Unit after his condition “worsened” on Monday afternoon.

Mr Hulme said: “Hopefully this will remind people that the most amazing thing you can do this weekend is to save a life by staying at home.”

More: PM Boris Johnson admitted to intensive care

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