A&E visits in Suffolk and north Essex on the rise after lockdown decline

A&E visiting numbers are on the rise at Ipswich, Colchester and West Suffolk hospitals Pictures: AR

A&E visiting numbers are on the rise at Ipswich, Colchester and West Suffolk hospitals Pictures: ARCHANT - Credit: Rachel Edge

The number of people visiting A&E departments in the region is rising again and levels are almost back at pre-lockdown levels, figures have revealed.

It is believed a significant reduction in people visiting emergency and minor injury units in the region – and nationwide – was linked to the coronavirus pandemic, with patients afraid of catching the virus.

At Ipswich and Colchester hospitals (ESNEFT), the numbers visiting A&E dropped to 9,203 in April (the first full month of lockdown), a decline of almost 4,500 patients compared to 14,554 who attended in March. The figure was less than half of the 18,858 attendances in February.

Now, as lockdown restrictions continue to be lifted, the number of people visiting emergency departments is on the rise, with 14,487 people passing through ESNEFT’s doors in June. This is, however, significantly lower than the 21,500 attendance figure for June last year.

The figure includes both those requiring treatment for minor injuries and for major issues such as heart attacks and strokes.

Broken down, the figures show 7,282 visited ESNEFT with major issues in April, with that figure rising to 10,913 in June. For minor injuries, the figure rose from 1,921 to 3,574 in the same period.

At West Suffolk Hospital, the number of patients attending A&E in June was 5,450 - which was just fractionally higher than the 5,020 recorded in March – although lower than February’s 6,169.

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In April, just 3,542 visited the Bury St Edmunds hospital for emergency care.

In terms of major issues, figures rose from 3,423 in April to 5,287 in June – and minor injuries rose from 119 to 163 in the same period.

Nick Hulme, ESNEFT chief executive, said: “We have made every effort to make sure there are safe spaces for our patients to come to in our emergency departments and in our hospitals so they can receive the care they need, when they need it.

“All we ask is that people in the communities we serve make the right call. If you feel very unwell or need urgent treatment, come and see us, it is safe for you to be in hospital, but if you are worried about your health, visit your GP or local pharmacist, or call NHS 111.”

Dr Nick Jenkins, medical director at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust added: “I’m pleased that the measures we have put in place to minimise the spread of Covid-19 have given our local residents the confidence to attend our emergency department when they are in urgent need of medical help. Throughout the pandemic, our highly-trained medical staff have provided care and support to patients who have come through our doors.”

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