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Hospital A&E wards busiest at weekends in Suffolk – in contrast to rest of England

PUBLISHED: 08:26 29 January 2016 | UPDATED: 08:40 29 January 2016

Dr David Hartin, clinical lead for the Emergency Department at Ipswich Hospital

Dr David Hartin, clinical lead for the Emergency Department at Ipswich Hospital


Do figures contrasting national average of Mondays and Tuesdays having the most A&E attendances raise questions in Suffolk?

A&E attendances at Ipswich Hospital, West Suffolk Hospital and Colchester Hospital - 2013/14 and 2014/15A&E attendances at Ipswich Hospital, West Suffolk Hospital and Colchester Hospital - 2013/14 and 2014/15

A total of 12,731 patients attended A&E at Ipswich Hospital on a Sunday in 2014/15, a daily average of 244, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Saturday was the next busiest, with 12,332 attendances, while Monday was third with 12,193.

At West Suffolk Hospital (WSH) in Bury St Edmunds, Sunday was also the busiest day, with 9,641 attendances, or 185 each day on average. Monday was the second-busiest, with 9,475, and Saturday was third with 9,132.

But in England, Monday and Tuesday were the busiest and second-busiest days, respectively, on average. Sunday and Saturday were the third and fourth-busiest days respectively.

A&E informationA&E information

The figures come amid an ongoing national row between health workers and the Government over the use of data suggesting people are more likely to die at the weekend in NHS hospitals.

Previous national studies have found that patients admitted at weekends are older and more sick, although some have shown that death rates are still higher at weekends despite this.

An Ipswich Hospital spokesman said: “We do see more patients on Saturdays and Sundays. One possible explanation is because we provide the minor injury unit service for people living in Ipswich which may increase the numbers.

“Despite this increase, we have achieved the national standard of treating 95% of patients within four hours on Saturday and Sunday.

“We would like to thank everyone who supports the hospital, and in particular those who think whether coming to emergency department is the right choice.

“Our message is: think before you come here, but we are here to care for everybody 24/7.”

Separate figures provided by the hospital show that the Heath Road site met the government’s target of treating at least 95% of A&E patients within four hours on Saturdays and Sundays last year.

Jon Green, chief operating officer at WSH, said a “slight shift in the pattern of attendances” has seen Monday become their busiest day “over the past year”.

He added that demand is “reducing slightly towards the ends of the week”.

He said: “Although it is difficult to pinpoint a reason for this, the general trend year on year is that we are continuing to see more and more patients, with the number coming to our emergency department now averaging around 180 each day.

“We always encourage people to use their emergency department sensibly and consider other healthcare options, such as their GP, pharmacist or NHS 111, for minor illnesses or injuries.

“Although the data shows that around 30% of patients are discharged without follow up, this does not necessarily mean they should have gone elsewhere as it could be their treatment is complete.”

A spokesman for the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said growing numbers of patients are attending hospital with more complex health needs.

The spokesman said: “All of our plans for urgent and emergency care see fluctuations in patient numbers over different days over the years. We’d like to take this opportunity to praise health professionals who work so hard to maintain and support people who are in need of help.”

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