Weather: Hospitals are coping well

HOSPITALS are treating more people for trips, slips and falls as the latest wintry onslaught hits the region.

But health bosses say the number of people coming into their accident and emergency departments is holding steady.

This is despite East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) claiming it had responded to 6,000 emergency calls in the region between Friday and Sunday, nearly 20% up compared with figures for November 19-21.

Hospitals in Ipswich, Colchester and Bury St Edmunds have said they are coping well with the conditions and have not had to cancel or postpone any operations.

Meanwhile staff at Colchester General spent Saturday night at the hospital to cover for colleagues stranded in the snow.

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Simon Burns, Health Minister and MP for Chelmsford, said: “Their determination, by staying overnight, when their colleagues were stranded in the snow, continuing to care for patients, emphasises the qualities that make the NHS a world renowned institution.”

Mark Prentice, a spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Trust, said the biggest problem yesterday morning was clearing the backlog of people fit enough to go home, but who had been stranded because of a shortage of ambulances.

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He added: “Over the weekend and on Monday we have seen numbers of patients who have come in because of trips, slips and falls increase.”

Jan Rowsell, a spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said although it is expecting a hike in patients needing treatment for slips and falls, the number of people seen in its accident and emergency department is holding steady.

She added: “We’re managing very well, all of our staff have made sterling efforts to get to work.

“We’re fully up and running and staff have been magnificent. We’re grateful to the community for bearing with us.”

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital said: “Although we have been busy, the number of people coming into the hospital has been at the level we would expect for this time of year.

“Our staff have been able to get to work and we have not had to postpone any operations.

“However we would encourage everyone to continue to help us to help them by thinking carefully about the best place to go for treatment this winter.

“A range of advice for minor conditions is available from your pharmacist or GP, or alternatively you can contact NHS Direct at any time of the day or night.”

Hayden Newton, chief executive of EEAS, said: “We had one of our busiest weekends ever over Friday, Saturday and Sunday and it looks as if high demand is set to continue along with the difficult weather conditions.”

EEAS covers Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

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