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Hopsital creaks under strain

PUBLISHED: 05:45 27 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:20 24 February 2010

PATIENTS have been transferred out of Ipswich Hospital to other medical centres to ease a major bed shortage crisis, it emerged last night.

Hospital chiefs said there were in the grip of their "busiest ever day", with every bed full and numerous operations having to be cancelled - some for the second time.

PATIENTS have been transferred out of Ipswich Hospital to other medical centres to ease a major bed shortage crisis, it emerged last night.

Hospital chiefs said there were in the grip of their "busiest ever day", with every bed full and numerous operations having to be cancelled - some for the second time.

They also revealed eight patients had been moved to other hospitals in the area to relieve the pressure.

They said it was impossible to say when the problems would ease, but it could go on for several days - forcing more cancelled operations.

Nurses away on courses or study-leave were called back to Ipswich and more than 13 additional beds were put onto wards to accommodate demand.

Clare Barlow, director of nursing and operations said that despite "immense pressure" staff had pulled out all the stops to ensure no one was put at risk.

The 800-bed hospital ordinarily runs at 97% occupancy rate but yesterdaythere were more patients than beds.

The recommended figure is 85%.

The demand was said to be caused by an unusually high number of patients needing urgent and emergency care and not, as has been the case in previous busy periods, by a high number of patients waiting for beds in nursing homes – so called 'bedblockers'

Ms Barlow said the hospital "deeply regretted" having to cancel some patients' non-urgent operations more than once.

She added: "We are asking everyone, especially people who may find that they are having to wait longer in clinics, to be supportive and tolerant at this time."

She appealed to patients to consider other options such as ringing NHS Direct rather that the hospital's Accident and Emergency department, for non life-threatening treatment.

A hospital spokeswoman reassured patients that all the additional, temporary beds were in safe, clinical areas.

With many operations cancelled, if there is no let-up over the next few days, the hospital could risk missing vital waiting time targets next month.

That could, in turn, jeopardise its chance of winning back its two-star rating, having dropped to a single star last year.

The spokeswoman said it was impossible to predict when demand would drop off.

She added that a £24 million critical care and treatment centre, planned for 2005, would create 72 emergency care beds at the hospital, relieving pressure on the system.

For non-emergency health advice and assistance contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647.


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