Hospitals in Suffolk and Essex preparing for the busy winter period


- Credit: Archant

The winter period may still be a few weeks away but hospital bosses have insisted they are well prepared for an expected increase in demand.

The colder months are often the busiest time for health centres across the country and in this region, initiatives are already being put in place to deal with the surge.

At Ipswich Hospital a six-month pilot project will begin in October, called the frailty assessment unit, which aims to see patients “on the brink of admission” and offer them help and support to keep them out of hospital.

A hospital spokeswoman said the Heath Road trust has been preparing for winter “for quite some time”. She added: “We know it is going to be a very challenging winter and we are focusing very hard on making sure that not only are we able to bring patients into hospital but we are able to discharge people who are well enough to go home.”

Jon Green, chief operating officer at West Suffolk Hospital, added: “As we do every year, we are working closely with partners from across health and social care to help us prepare for the winter period and manage any increases in demand. This includes contributing to a system-wide winter plan, which was discussed by our board on Friday and shows how health and social care will work together to ensure everyone can access safe, high quality services.

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“Within the hospital, we have been carrying out work to improve the flow of patients from admission through to discharge, and have proactively secured additional beds with in the community for patients who are medically fit for discharge from the hospital but need extra support before returning home.”

Colchester Hospital is part of the emergency care improvement programme, which was announced earlier this month.

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This is a clinically-led project which focuses on patient flow, an issue for the trust if and when beds fill up, as it is then difficult to transfer patients from A&E who need to be admitted to a ward because space is so limited.

A hospital spokesman said: “No extra money is involved but EPIC is about giving targeted support as part of a programme to reduce hospitals admissions.”

While hospitals are preparing for the colder months, health bosses are encouraging people across the area to take simple steps to avoid unnecessary trips to hospital. Currently, the annual drive to get people vaccinated against the flu is continuing.

Dr Paul Kaiser, a GP in Wickham Market and governing body member of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said: “For people in at-risk groups flu can have serious consequences.

“Everyone aged 65 years and over, people with long-term health conditions, young children and pregnant women should get the flu jab.”

Dr Amanda Jones, assistant director of Public Health Suffolk, added: “Winter flu is highly contagious and can be especially harmful for the county’s most vulnerable people.

“Flu can affect anyone and those at greater risk are offered annual vaccination.”

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