Enormous pressure on hospital's beds

ENORMOUS pressures on bed services at Ipswich Hospital can be revealed today.Figures show the hospital has been on black alert - when it is completely full with no beds available - on more than half the days so far this year.

ENORMOUS pressures on bed services at Ipswich Hospital can be revealed today.

Figures show the hospital has been on black alert - when it is completely full with no beds available - on more than half the days so far this year.

On 24 days, the hospital has remained on black alert the whole day, meaning patients were left waiting for an empty bed.

It comes amid a cost-cutting regime at the hospital which has seen 37 beds closed since September and another 34 facing the axe in the near future.

The hospital trust said it was improving services so many patients were being treated without the need to be admitted - and insisted it would never turn needy people away.

Thrice-daily reports on the status of available beds at Ipswich Hospital were released after a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

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They show that, for the majority of the time, the 750-bed hospital has been either full or operating with less than seven acute beds available for adults across the whole site.

Jan Rowsell, an Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman, said high levels of activity combined with preventative work to stop the spread of infections such as C-diff and norovirus had put great pressure on the hospital.

“This is traditionally the busiest period of year, when people do get quite poorly and we see a growing number of elderly people,” she said.

“At our busiest times, we will send out an alert to GPs to say we are really under pressure and to think carefully about whether people really need hospital treatment, but it has been business as usual and we have not turned people away.

“It isn't an accurate picture just to look at the number of beds - a lot of what we do just isn't bed-based anymore.”

Trevor Rowe, whose 84-year-old father Raymond was sent home in the middle of the night in a taxi while the hospital was on black alert on February 13, said elderly patients wanted the security of a hospital bed.

“When people go into hospital they want to feel safe and they want the right attention. If it becomes a conveyor belt then that is a reduction is services and standards,” he said.

An internal investigation into the pensioner's case brought an unreserved apology from the hospital.

“They said it was unacceptable and would not happen again but whether they are hollow words, I don't know,” said Mr Rowe, of Bramford.

“They keep cutting beds and I've seen no indication of how they are going to solve the problem. It is very worrying.”

N Have you or your family been affected by this issue? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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