Under pressure Ipswich Hospital reports ‘unprecedented demand’ over Christmas

Ipswich Hospital

Ipswich Hospital

Ipswich Hospital says it has faced “unprecedented demand” for its services over the festive period.

The hospital said it was working with commissioners to identify the cause behind the surge - but assured patients it would be doing everything possible to provide “high quality, safe and compassionate” care.

It follows reports that more than 3,000 operations were cancelled by the NHS in the first two weeks of this month due to increased demand in hospitals across the UK. Labour highlighted the figures as evidence of the severe stress and lack of beds facing A&E departments.

Admissions at Ipswich Hospital are said to be “wide ranging”, with no specific pattern behind the spike.

Patients are reminded to “think carefully” before attending the emergency department and consider whether their treatment could be better provided elsewhere.

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However a hospital spokesman said most people attending A&E over the Christmas period had done so with due cause and thanked patients for choosing appropriately.

Staff have also been thanked for maintaining standards of care.

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“Our staff have been magnificent in making sure high quality, safe and compassionate care has been provided at all times,” the spokesman added.

“Despite the high volume of emergency admissions, we are managing to see as many patients as possible for planned care.”

West Suffolk Hospital brought in more staff and opened extra beds after its “very busy” Christmas period was worsened by a suspected norovirus outbreak.

Jon Green, chief operating officer at the hospital, said the rate of admissions was higher than expected, with a peak of 193 people attending the emergency department (ED) on Saturday.

The hospital was also forced to close two wards because of a norovirus outbreak, which Mr Green said “added to the challenges” regarding patient flow.

Staff closed ward G4 on Christmas Day after seven patients started showing symptoms of the highly contagious diarrhoea and vomiting virus. Ward F3 was closed yesterday after a further five patients began showing symptoms.

People who have had diarrhoea or vomiting are urged to stay away from the hospital for at least 72 hours after they have recovered to avoid infecting someone who is already sick with the highly contagious illness.

Mr Green said the high admissions rate followed a growing trend, which has seen the number of patients rise by 5% year-on year.

“This trend has continued over the Christmas period and we are expecting similar figures into the new year,” he added.

Colchester General Hospital said it was “very busy” over Christmas and reminded people to use its accident and emergency department only for critical or life-threatening situations such as loss of consciousness, heavy blood loss, suspected broken bones, persistent chest pain, difficulty breathing, overdoses, ingestion or poisoning.

The Trust thanked its staff for providing the “high quality of safe care expected by our patients” and also thanked its partner organisations for their support.

For details of phramacists on duty over the New Year period, see our guide here

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