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Winter pressures endure across Ipswich, West Suffolk and Colchester hospitals

PUBLISHED: 19:55 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 19:55 07 February 2018

West Suffolk Hospital's medical director, Nick Jenkins. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

West Suffolk Hospital's medical director, Nick Jenkins. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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Pressure on the region’s hospitals looks set to remain high as plummeting temperatures put vulnerable people at risk.

Ipswich Hospital.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Ipswich Hospital. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Bosses at West Suffolk, Ipswich and Colchester hospitals say they are still very busy, but assure staff are coping well with the increased workload.

A cold snap has gripped Suffolk and Essex this week, with snow fall and temperatures plunging to -4C (24.8F).

Nick Jenkins, medical director at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, has urged people to take steps to keep themselves well in the hazardous conditions.

He said: “There’s lots of good advice out there about how best to cope with the cold weather. For example, it is really important to keep warm in cold weather as it can be bad for your health. When the temperature drops to below 8C (46.4F), some people are at increased risk of having a heart attack, a stroke, falls or hypothermia. The cold weather is also a common trigger for breathing difficulties.

Colchester General Hospital. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR Colchester General Hospital. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

“Heat your home to at least 18C (65F) and keep your bedroom window closed on cold nights. Ensure you wear several layers of clothes rather than one chunky layer, and wrap a scarf loosely around your mouth when outdoors. If you have a heart or respiratory problem, it’s best to stay indoors during very cold weather if you can.”

Mr Jenkins said the hospital’s A&E department was still seeing a higher than usual footfall.

“We have seen a rise in demand since Christmas, and have regularly seen more than 200 emergency department attendances each day, which has been maintained into February,” he said. “We’re very grateful to all our staff, who are working incredibly hard to provide safe, quality care to our patients.”

Jan Ingle, head of communications at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, said both hospitals continued to be “very busy” but were managing well.

She added: “We continue to see people who are older and frailer and needing urgent care being referred to us.”

Latest NHS figures show more than 90% of beds at the three hospitals were full every day in the last week of January.

During that period, 1,643 patients attended Colchester, Ipswich and West Suffolk A&E departments by ambulance, and 271 (16%) faced handover delays of more than 30 minutes. It was 13% the previous week.

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