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Dedicated staff sleep at Ipswich, Colchester and West Suffolk hospitals amid snow chaos

PUBLISHED: 12:19 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:04 01 March 2018

Ipswich Hospital Debenham Ward nurses Naomi Brade and Jack Burt. Picture: CHRIS BRAMMER

Ipswich Hospital Debenham Ward nurses Naomi Brade and Jack Burt. Picture: CHRIS BRAMMER

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Hero NHS staff in Suffolk and north Essex slept at their hospitals in a show of dedication to patients as severe snowstorms shut down travel networks.

Some employees across Ipswich, Colchester and West Suffolk trusts chose to stay the night after their shifts yesterday to ensure they could be there to deliver care today.

This week the region has been struck by chaotic weather conditions brought by the so-called Beast from the East and exacerbated by Storm Emma.

Even Ipswich and Colchester hospital chief executive Nick Hulme was forced to abandon his journey to work this morning due to treacherous roads.

Mr Hulme praised his staff for their commitment and determination throughout the cold snap.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals. Picture: PAGEPIXNick Hulme, chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals. Picture: PAGEPIX

Debenham Ward nurses Jack Burt and Naomi Brade were among the staff who elected to sleep at Ipswich Hospital last night.

Ms Brade said: “It was strange sleeping at work. I normally go home after a shift and unwind.

“I live at Stoke. Yesterday the public transport was cancelled and the wait for a taxi was hours.

“Depending on what the weather is like, we are all going to chip in and get a taxi home after this shift.

Rowan Procter, West Suffolk Hospital's chief nurse. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDRowan Procter, West Suffolk Hospital's chief nurse. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

“We have a great team spirit on our ward and are all there to help each other.”

Mr Burt stayed the night at the hospital so he could work today on his day off to help out during the bad weather.

On Wednesday morning Mr Burt was forced to walk to the hospital from his home near Ipswich train station due to transport problems.

“I didn’t want that to happen again,” he added.

“I slept overnight which was a weird feeling, it felt very empty. I had no hesitation working on my day off.”

Around 20 members of staff at West Suffolk Hospital stayed overnight in the trust’s on-site accommodation yesterday.

Rowan Procter, executive chief nurse, said: “Our staff have risen to the challenge magnificently this week, as they always do, to make sure patients are cared for despite difficulties with the weather. Whilst this is just the ‘West Suffolk way’, it also reflects the commitment of staff across the NHS who we know have been doing similar over the last few days.

“We’ve supported staff by providing accommodation on site for those that need it, free meal vouchers for our staff canteen, and have arranged transport to help our clinical teams get to and from work. Staff have also come together to lift-share where they can, and help one another get to work safely.

“Times like this show us the very best of the NHS and its people.”

Ms Procter also expressed her gratitude to charity Eastern Community Assistance Team, which has provided the trust with 4x4 vehicles and volunteer drivers to help staff reach patients in the community.

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