‘Significant difference’ in Covid-19 rates between Ipswich and Colchester hospitals

The chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals has said banning families visiting patients is the “right thing to do” – despite the Essex medical centre seeing 10 times the number of coronavirus cases than its Suffolk partner.

The comments have come after the disparity in coronavirus rates at the two hospitals was revealed.

Currently, there are 75 patients with coronavirus at Colchester Hospital with four patients in the intensive care unit, and only seven positive Covid-19 cases at Ipswich Hospital.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of East Suffolk and North East Essex Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), confirmed that half of the Colchester patients were asymptomatic.

None are in intensive care.

He said: “One of the challenges we do face is that we do sit across two communities where the prevalence of Covid-19 is significantly different.

“I think the current numbers reflect how different it is for our two communities.

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“Sadly one of the consequences of going into lockdown is that we’ve had to make the difficult decision to curtail all visiting except in exceptional circumstances. That feels quite unfair to the people of Suffolk because of the prevalence being so low. It will of course help the prevalence stay low.”

The health chief said the move was in line with the government’s lockdown message and added that he believed it would help stop the spread of the virus in both hospitals.

“Although it is a regrettable step across both organisations I think it feels even more regrettable for people in areas of lower prevalence,” he added.

“I believe we have done the right thing.

“I think we need to be consistent in terms of supporting the government messages around non-essential travel.

“But it doesn’t mean that we don’t do it with a heavy heart.”

It was confirmed on Wednesday, November 4, that visiting rights for the two hospitals were going to be cancelled to help stop the spread of coronavirus and keep patients and staff safe. There will be some exceptional circumstances where an immediate family member or carer can visit the hospitals.

These include if a patient is receiving end-of-life care, parents or appropriate adults with a child in hospital, carers for those with a learning disability or dementia.