Hospital 'full to capacity'

AN ESSEX hospital has had to draft in more staff and find extra beds after an influx of patients filled its wards to capacity, it has been revealed.Managers at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford called on members of the public yesterday to avoid coming into hospital unless absolutely necessary - and to stay away if they have respiratory infections, vomiting or diarrhoea.

AN ESSEX hospital has had to draft in more staff and find extra beds after an influx of patients filled its wards to capacity, it has been revealed.

Managers at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford called on members of the public yesterday to avoid coming into hospital unless absolutely necessary - and to stay away if they have respiratory infections, vomiting or diarrhoea.

The idea is to limit the number of new admissions and to prevent diseases from spreading through the hospital's already full wards.

Colchester General Hospital is also experiencing one of its busiest ever periods with emergency admissions being 25% above normal for this time of year.

As part of Broomfield Hospital's efforts to meet demand, hospital managers have opened an extra 50 beds within its grounds and agreed for 18 more beds to be opened in the Chelmsford area by the borough's primary care trust.

The hospital claimed yesterday its resources were being stretched to capacity as a result of “sustained pressure” since Christmas and problems getting elderly patients discharged into the community.

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Additional medical staff have also been brought in to help the hospital cope with the increased demand.

Louise Hembrough, director of nursing at the hospital, said “This is traditionally a difficult time of year for the hospital, with a high number of vulnerable people needing care.

“Our nursing staff are coping well with the situation but we are asking for the public to help us during this time by only attending accident and emergency if absolutely necessary and using other healthcare providers such as GPs wherever possible. Anyone with a life threatening illness should always come straight to accident and emergency.”

A spokesman for Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust said: “Last Friday we had 99 people come into accident and emergency - that is an exceptionally high number and one of the highest we have seen.

“It has been very busy and resources at the hospital are very, very tight. Our staff are very keen to discharge patients where it is medically safe to do so. The number of emergency admissions is currently about 25% above our expectations.

“Having said that it is not unusual to be exceptionally busy at this time of year.”

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