A&E staff in life-saving pledge

Ipswich Hospital staff are today pulling out all the stops to save lives after emergency teams were left reeling from their biggest-ever influx of patients and admissions.

IPSWICH: Ipswich Hospital staff are today pulling out all the stops to save lives after emergency teams were left reeling from their biggest-ever influx of patients and admissions.

An unprecedented number of patients have flowed in this month to swamp resources - prompting fears that some people may be by-passing GP out-of-hours services.

Huge spikes in emergency arrivals have led to staff bringing in a series of specials measures.

These include:

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N Routine operations being postponed

N Patients being sent home the moment they are deemed to be well enough

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N Senior staff being sent to the “front line”

N Executives working through the day and night.

The hospital's emergency department was swamped with 85 admissions last Monday alone, testing staff who usually deal with just 25 in a day.

The onslaught has continued in to this week - with Andrew Reed, chief executive, joining his teams in the emergency department late in to last night.

“These are exceptionally busy times,” he said. “We are coping, but it is very difficult and we have to say thank you to our staff, but also apologise to those who are seeing operations postponed. These will be re-arranged as soon as possible.”

Jan Rowsell, Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman, said: “We have been exceptionally busy last week and now this - but, as always, staff are rising to the challenge and are fantastic.”

One problem could be the freezing weather and icy conditions. This had sparked breathing problems in some patients, while others had contracted viruses, colds and flu.

But recent concerns over GPs' out-of-hours services in Suffolk may mean that patients are using the hospital as their first port of call.

Extra beds have been opened to cope with the soaring demand, although some wards are limiting the number of patients for safety reasons.

“We need to make sure we haven't got more people than we can safely look after,” Ms Rowsell said. “We can't open beds if we haven't got the right number of staff.”

Head matrons and corporate nurses are being pitched in to help care for the overwhelming number of arrivals.

One gauge of numbers happened at the weekend - where normally around 140 people arrive at A&E. This weekend the figure shot up to 180 a day.

Pressure had already been rising at the trust, which was forced to close two wards to new admittances after an outbreak of the winter sickness bug (Norovirus) last week.

Planned operations were cancelled to cope with the extra demand and patients who were fit to go home were released to free up more space for casualties.

In a weekly newsletter, Mr Reed praised his staff for their dedication and hard work which saw the trust through one of its most challenging weeks.

“Our hospital teams worked incredibly hard to meet the need for beds while protecting wards and not admitting more patients than would have been safe to do so,” he said.

Last night, Mr Reed said he had been monitoring other hospitals in the region - and they were relatively quiet while Ipswich was “terrifically busy.”

“We have to apologise to those who are having operations cancelled but hope they will understand and that we'll get them back in very soon.”

Has the hospital coped well? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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