MP raises doubts over whether Suffolk will leave Tier 2 next week
Cabinet minister and Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey has raised fears that Suffolk may not be able to move out of Tier 2 when the government reviews coronavirus restrictions next week.
Both Ipswich MP Tom Hunt and Central Suffolk and North Ipswich’s Dr Dan Poulter have said they hope the county will be able to move into the lowest level of restrictions before Christmas.
However, addressing her constituents on Facebook, Dr Coffey raised concerns following a briefing with Nick Hulme, chief executive of Ipswich Hospital, and Ed Garratt, chief executive of Suffolk’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
“As I mentioned the other day, Ipswich Hospital has a lot more patients and Nick’s team are carefully managing the inflow of patients,” said Dr Coffey.
“Admission testing is identifying people coming in for other treatments as having Covid and a subsequent rearrangement of patients is then needed so as to help control infection transmission.”
She added: “While the infection rates are falling across the county, the number of patients being admitted into hospital makes me less confident about moving out of Tier 2 before Christmas.
“I hope I am wrong as I know how important it is for our hospitality industry to enjoy a good Christmas and New Year.”
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Dr Coffey also revealed the new Covid-19 vaccine cannot be stored at Ipswich Hospital, due to the low temperatures required - but that Colchester Hospital, which is also part of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), can.
“We were briefed about preparations for the vaccination process locally,” said Dr Coffey.
“Ipswich Hospital doesn’t have the freezer storage required for the Pfizer vaccine (Colchester does) and they are awaiting further direction on if/how the vaccine packages can be processed to make it more straightforward to reach the high priority people.
“It will certainly be easier to roll out the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, once/if it is approved for use.”
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said: “If we get cases down again soon I would like to think Suffolk could move into Tier 1 at the first review on December 16.”
He said he had not felt hospital bosses were particularly worried about a sudden rise in the number of cases: “The figures we heard were similar to those we had heard before – I didn’t feel any more concerned after the meeting than I had before it.”
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter also hoped that Suffolk would soon return to Tier 1.
“The figures in Suffolk do suggest we may not be in Tier 2 for too long if people observe the rules,” said Dr Poulter.
The hovernment is expected to make its next announcement regarding the tier system on December 16.