Changes to Ipswich A&E to continue until new centre is built
- Credit: Simon Parker
Changes made to improve social distancing at Ipswich Hospital's emergency department are to continue until a new urgent treatment centre and emergency department are built.
Changes introduced to improve social distancing at the Garrett Anderson Centre, the current home of the A&E department, mean people with certain injuries are instead seen at the fracture clinic – where the old emergency department was based.
Patients who can be seen by a GP are also directed to the fracture clinic, with the main aim being to reduce the number of people in the Garrett Anderson Centre waiting room.
Karen Lough, director of operations at the hospital, said the changes will continue until the £35million urgent treatment centre (UTC) and emergency department (ED) are built.
The UTC will cater for an estimated 50,000 people who arrive at A&E each year with conditions such as sprains, fever and vomiting, while the ED will continue helping those with other ailments.
The two centres received unanimous support from Ipswich Borough Council's planning committee and are expected to open next year.
Ms Lough said: “The main emergency department is still based in the Garrett Anderson Centre, but as part of our Covid-19 response and using spaces differently to keep everyone safe, patients who present with some injuries and those who can be seen by a GP are now seen in the fracture clinic, which is where the emergency department used to be based.
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"This is so we can continue to follow social distancing in the main waiting area of the Garrett Anderson Centre.
“Going forward, this arrangement will remain in place as building work starts to construct the new urgent treatment centre (UTC) and emergency department at Ipswich Hospital.”
Speaking last year, East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust director of estates, Paul Fenton, said the centres will simplify services for patients.
He said: "The new centre will offer treatment for a range of urgent but not life-threatening conditions, in turn easing pressure on the ED by freeing up staff to focus on providing care for the most critically ill and seriously injured patients.
“By ensuring that patients are seen by the right team first time, this exciting development will improve their experience of accessing care while reducing the amount of time they need to wait for treatment.
"At the same time, it will help us to make sure our emergency department remains available to those in the greatest clinical need.”