Covid threat still 'serious' as hospital trust's death toll reaches 1,000

Nick Hulme speaking at the meeting in the Corn Exchange. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Health bosses, including ESNEFT boss Nick Hulme and West Suffolk Hospital chief executive Dr Steve Dunn, signed an open letter issuing a plea to the public over their Christmas plans during Covid-19 - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/West Suffolk Hospital

Hospital chiefs have warned coronavirus still poses a serious threat as the death toll at one trust passed 1,000.

Virus deaths at the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) topped the tragic milestone last week, with figures announced on Friday confirming 664 total deaths at Colchester Hospital since the start of the pandemic, and a further 469 at Ipswich. 

Three lives have been lost to the virus at the trust's community hospitals, which include Felixstowe and Aldeburgh, bringing the total to 1,136.

The total virus death toll at West Suffolk Hospital stood at 256 as of 4pm on Friday.

Provisional data indicates ESNEFT had 53 deaths in the week to Friday, down from 60 the week before. West Suffolk reported five, down from 17 the previous week.

On Thursday, it was revealed that 300 patients were still battling the illness at all three hospitals, although cases are starting to fall.

Nick Hulme, ESNEFT chief executive, described the current situation as "serious" and stressed the importance of continuing to reduce the spread of the virus in our communities by staying at home and following the rules.

"My thoughts remain with those who have lost someone they love to coronavirus and they’re also with our staff, whose compassion has meant so much to people in difficult times and who continue to work hard to care for all our patients," he added.

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Dr Stephen Dunn, chief executive of West Suffolk Hospital, said NHS teams now know more about the virus and have more advanced treatments, which he says has seen "many patients return home to their families".

He also expressed condolences to those who have lost loved ones and paid tribute to staff, although he added: "We are still seeing new Covid patients coming in every day, which is why it is still crucial that everyone continues to follow the ‘hands, face, space’ guidance and takes up the offer of the vaccine, when invited.”

On Thursday, Suffolk was revealed to be in the top five areas nationally for vaccinating more than a quarter of its eligible population.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, ESNEFT has discharged 2,236 patients home to recover, while West Suffolk has so far been able to send 657 people home.