Hospital sorry for ambulance queues

A HOSPITAL has issued an apology after unexpected pressures on its accident and emergency services left patients queuing in ambulances.

James Hore

A HOSPITAL has issued an apology after unexpected pressures on its accident and emergency services left patients queuing in ambulances.

The problems at Colchester General Hospital meant some people had to be treated by paramedics while still in ambulances.

The average amount of ambulances queuing on Monday was eight although at one stage it reached 12 with the less serious cases waiting for hours until they could get into A&E.

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The “spike” in demand was put down to a series of reasons including the colder weather and lack of available beds.

However, the trust which runs the hospital said there was no truth in reports that nurses had been “left in tears”.

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The problem was mirrored at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds when ambulance crews were forced to wait in corridors with their patients as staff tried to find them a bed.

Ipswich Hospital has been on black alert this week due to a major shortage of beds, though this has not affected the ambulance service.

A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: “We have experienced some delays at peak times at the West Suffolk Hospital and Colchester hospital in recent days, and have been working with the hospitals to manage and reduce delays to ambulances and patients.

“In cases where a patient needs to be handed over urgently, they will be prioritised and both ambulance and A&E staff will ensure that an urgent handover takes place.”

A spokesman for Colchester General Hospital apologised to patients affected by long delays at the A&E department.

He said: “There was not one specific reason for the 'big spike' in demand but it was exceptionally busy.

“The colder weather was a contributing factor and it had been an extremely busy weekend as well but this is the nature of the business that we are in.

“Staff in A&E responded incredibly well, they are used to the pressure - nobody was turned away.

“People who needed to be treated most were treated first - those with less serious problems may have had to wait a little longer than normal and we apologise for that.”

He said the pressure began to ease later in day and the situation was on much more of an “even keel” by yesterday.

“There was not one single complaint from a member of the public - they understand the nature of the beast but we are grateful for their patience and understanding.”

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