Hospitals set to receive over £5million to prepare for potential winter coronavirus spike
Hospitals in Suffolk and north Essex have been given more than £5m to upgrade urgent and emergency care facilities ahead of a potentially busy winter and a feared second spike in coronavirus.
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which operates both Ipswich and Colchester, received £3.051m in funding as part of £300m to help the NHS prepare for winter and the risk of further outbreaks.
ESNEFT, which also runs community health services, was awarded the money – along with 116 trusts – by the Department of Health and Social Care.
In Ipswich, £200,000 will be used to upgrade the children’s emergency department (ED) to increase capacity and improve waiting areas, while £1.4m will help create an acute medical same day emergency care (AMSDEC) unit, where patients with problems like chest infections or palpitations can be assessed and treated quickly, without the need for a hospital stay.
In Colchester, a canopy will be positioned outside the urgent treatment centre to expand the waiting area for patients to maintain social distancing.
Another £1.4m will create offices for clinicians to free space in both the adult and children’s EDs – increasing capacity while boosting infection control.
Nick Hulme, chief executive at ESNEFT, said:“This is great news as it means that people coming into hospital for emergency or urgent treatment can feel confident that we are taking the extra steps necessary to keep them, their families and our staff safe.”
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said he was pleased to see the town’s hospital getting further funding from the Government.
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“It’s good to see that Ipswich Hospital’s A&E department will benefit from around £1.6 million to make upgrades in preparation for the winter,” said Mr Hunt.
Mr Hunt said that it was important that the efforts of staff working in the hospital were recognised in this way by central government.
He reiterated his commitment to helping Ipswich Hospital get the support it needs.
“I have made a point of raising the selfless efforts of our local NHS staff during the Covid-19 outbreak in the House of Commons and it’s absolutely right that they have the resources to match,” said Mr Hunt.
“This money will also help ensure we’re prepared for any uptick in Covid-19 over the coming months.
“ I’ll keep pushing to make sure they have everything they need.”
West Suffolk Hospital will receive a £2.7m share of the national pot.
The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust will use the money to create a Covid-19 rapid assessment area where infectious or potentially infectious patients attending the emergency department can be assessed separately and will also fund new equipment for the space.
Craig Black, executive director of resources and deputy CEO at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We welcome this funding from the Government to develop our emergency department in readiness for the coming winter.
“However, this space will be fully flexible, so if COVID-19 remains low in the community we can still use this extra assessment space for any patients attending our emergency department, future proofing the development.”
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