Hospital emergency visits back to normal levels despite pandemic

Neill Moloney, managing director and deputy chief executive at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ANDY ABBOT

Neill Moloney, managing director and deputy chief executive at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

The number of accident and emergency visits at Suffolk and north Essex hospitals have risen to levels seen pre-coronavirus lockdown, figures have shown.

According to the latest figures from NHS England, 24,507 people visited emergency units at hospitals in Ipswich, Colchester and Bury St Edmunds in August.

The figures, according to hospital staff, show a rise in confidence among people to visit hospitals again following the first peak of the coronavirus pandemic, which saw patient numbers decline in their thousands.

MORE: Coronavirus rates rise – but Babergh the lowest in the UK

In April, the first full month of lockdown, visitor numbers dropped as low as 9,203 at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals – a decline of 4,500 compared to March – and less than half of the 18,858 in February.

It was a similar situation in Bury St Edmunds, where just 3,542 people visited West Suffolk Hospital for emergency care.

Now however, despite fears regarding a rise in virus cases, patient numbers at all three hospitals are on the rise.

At Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, run by the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), 18,118 people passed through their doors, with 13,031 of those visiting A&E and 5,087 going to minor injury units.

Most Read

At West Suffolk Hospital, 393 of the 6,389 patients attended a minor injury or day unit.

It remains unknown however if the national rise in coronavirus cases could again see a decline in the number of emergency visits similar to at the beginning of the pandemic.

MORE: One third of voluntary organisations facing collapse due to coronavirus

Neill Moloney, ESNEFT managing director, said: “We are pleased that patients who have needed to come to hospital for emergency care are now attending our Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments.

“In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic we have made sure patients can safely attend our hospitals to receive the care they need, when they need it. If you need urgent or emergency treatment, do come and see us, it is safe for you to be in hospital.

“If you have a general worry about your health, call NHS 111, visit your GP or a local pharmacist and if you have any symptoms of Covid-19 (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) we would ask that you stay at home and go online to book a test, or call NHS 119 for advice.

“Alternatively, you can use the new NHS Covid-19 app to register your symptoms.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter