Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals call on community with 4x4 vehicles to help transport staff amid snow disruption

Roads across the county have struggled with snow coverage. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Roads across the county have struggled with snow coverage. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Volunteers with 4x4 vehicles are urgently being sought to help get hospital staff to work at Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals, as snow and ice has left many unable to make it in.

Snow and ice from the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ has swept in leaving disruption on the region’s roads and public transport.

Large snowdrifts and sheets of ice and snow have left many roads – particularly in rural and un-gritted areas – treacherous to pass, and impassable in some cases.

It has also caused severe disruption on trains and bus services, many of which have been suspended, meaning scores of health professionals have been unable to get to work.

It means that the pressure on already-stretched services continues to tighten for staff who have been able to make it in.

Now, the county’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have issued a plea for those with 4x4 vehicles that can spare some time to help transport healthcare staff who cannot get to work to the hospitals.

Dr Ed Garratt, chief executive of Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs said they would be “hugely grateful” for the community support.

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“Hospitals are under a lot of pressure, and putting on staffing that is adequate is absolutely crucial so anything we can do to get a full complement of staff is vital,” he said.

Dr Garratt explained that volunteers transporting healthcare staff to work would enable patients to be discharged effectively, patients to be supported getting home, and allow staff to cope in emergency departments.

He added it was about “keeping up the high standards of care in our hospitals”.

Dr Garratt hailed the work of healthcare staff who were already going above and beyond, and likened their efforts to the Dunkirk rescue operation during the Second World War.

“They have been fantastic,” he said.

“We have the best staff – not only in the hospitals but also the GPs, primary care and services.

“There is a real Dunkirk spirit and everyone is going the extra mile.”

Volunteers are needed, with their vehicles, at various times of the day and night, with health bosses urging people to help for as much or as little time as they can spare.

In particular, volunteers are needed to help pick up and drop home staff who live in rural areas, or areas where the roads may not be clear for the next four days.

UPDATE: Both hospitals have confirmed they do not need any more volunteers.

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