ICU beds at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals full for 4 days running

The intensive care units at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals have been full since before New Year due to the pressure from...

The intensive care units at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals have been full since before New Year due to the pressure from coronavirus - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

More than 100 deaths have been recorded at two of the region's major hospitals in the last week, as the number of patients in critical care rose to 50. 

Most of the critical care beds at the East Suffolk and North Essex trust - which runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals - were filled with patients last week as the NHS continues to face extreme pressures caused by coronavirus.  

The new NHS data shows that from Monday, January 18 to Sunday, January 24, the number of critical care beds in use remained high. 

Nurse Hayley Kirk. The first Ipswich covid vaccinations are being administered at Two Rivers Medical

The vaccine programme is well underway in Suffolk. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Critical care capacity has doubled from the usual 25 beds across both hospitals, and in the recent week the minimum number of patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) was 44.

None of its 48 beds were free from Monday to Wednesday, and the 44 available on Thursday were also all occupied with patients requiring critical care. 

On Friday, one bed was made available, out of the 45 under the care of the trust. That increased to two available beds on Saturday.

However, by Sunday, all available beds were fully occupied again, despite the hospital increasing its capacity to 50 beds. 

Neill Moloney, managing director and deputy chief executive at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ANDY ABBOT

Neill Moloney is managing director of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust. - Credit: Archant

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Neill Moloney is managing director of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester and Ipswich hospitals.

He said: “Our hard working staff continue to care for all of our patients, including those who need urgent or additional support on our critical care units.

“Managing critical care beds in our hospitals is part of a much bigger, overall plan that is in place across the region. This allows us to manage any increase in demand so we can make sure patients are cared for safely.”

Meanwhile, coronavirus deaths at Suffolk's hospitals are at their highest levels since the pandemic began. 

Provisional data for the same seven-day period shows that tragically 125 people lost their lives with Covid-19, taking the trust's total death count to 944 since the pandemic began. 

In the same period, 22 deaths were recorded at West Suffolk Hospital, where the number of those admitted with the disease is much lower.

However, there is some good news as the latest coronavirus infection data shows ever decreasing rates of the virus in Suffolk as the number of cases being reported continues to drop.

Ipswich and Colchester hospitals CEO Nick Hulme also reported a "slight" decrease in the number of positive patients being admitted.

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