Ipswich: Hospital’s bid to tackle A&E crisis is hailed a success by health secretary Jeremy Hunt

Nick Hulme, chief executive at Ipswich Hospital, said a plan of action to help relieve pressures on

Nick Hulme, chief executive at Ipswich Hospital, said a plan of action to help relieve pressures on A&E is showing some results - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Hospital’s action plan to tackle the pressures on its A&E department has landed on the desk of Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt as a good example of how to tackle the issues facing emergency departments across the UK.

In the last five years the number of attendances at the hospital’s accident and emergency department has risen by more than 20,000, rocketing to 73,651 last year from 53,604 in 2008/09 – a rise of nearly 40%.

The action plan involves recruiting new staff, working to reduce the time it takes for tests to be reviewed by doctors, closer working with the hospital’s wards to ensure patients are admitted as quickly as possible and changing the layout of the department to make more space for ambulance handovers.

At a meeting of the hospital board yesterday, chief executive Nick Hulme said he is encouraged by the improvements achieved.

Margaret Beckett, the director for transformation, said the plan’s implementation had seen the hospital hit the target for 95% of A&E patients being seen within four hours in May after missing it in January, March and April.

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She also noted that – bar one incident last Friday when three ambulances had to wait longer than two hours after 21 ambulances arrived between 6pm and midnight – there had been no problem with delayed handovers, as a result of the plan.

Mr Hulme added: “The Secretary of State’s office was given our improvement plan as an example of a good one. The focus has been on ensuring staff in the department feel fully supported in delivering care rather than just focus on hitting the target.”

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But he warned the hospital was about to begin plannning to cope with next winter. He said it was vital that new ways of working were developed by then in order to cope with what is expected to be another busy period.

Tell us your health stories. Email health reporter Lizzie Parry at lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk or call 01473 324788.

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