Ipswich Hospital emergency department sees record high attendance

Figures released under Freedom of Information laws found �653,392 was spent on medical locums employ

Ipswich Hospital's accident and emergency unit saw its busiest ever day this week

Ipswich Hospital's emergency department has seen a record high number of patients, as figures continue their rise across the region.

The hospital's emergency department saw a 10.4% increase on its previous record figure on Monday, July 5, with the hospital seeing 388 patients in a 24-hour period. 

Reports last month showed patient numbers are continuing to rise, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions continue to be lifted – with patients having to queue outside the doors.

The numbers at the time were said to not have surpassed pre-Covid levels, although the time it takes staff to change personal protective equipment (PPE) between patients has added to the pressures.

It is widely believed the easing of restrictions and lower Covid patient numbers in hospitals are seeing people feel more comfortable entering the hospital site, while those who have stayed away are also now seeing their symptoms worsen to a point they require care.

Some patients have also said they are put off seeing a GP due to telephone appointments.

NHS England’s medical director, Prof Stephen Powis, said the NHS is “used to coping with pressures” and is prepared for any rises coming from the proposed easing of restrictions on July 19.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, said the trust is prepared for the winter Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

ESNEFT chief executive Nick Hulme has asked for people only to attend in an emergency - Credit: Archant

Nick Hulme, chief executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said people who are not in need of urgent or emergency treatment should seek other avenues via the NHS.

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He said: “Our teams in the emergency department are here for anyone who needs urgent and emergency treatment.

“However, if it’s not an emergency, please use NHS services appropriately.

“If you need treatment, but it’s not an emergency, call NHS 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk first. They will help you right away and if you need urgent care, they will book you in to be seen quickly and safely.

“Your local pharmacy or GP practice can also offer help and advice for minor illnesses and injury.”

Patients have continued to praise emergency department staff despite the waiting times, recognising the hard work they undertake in difficult conditions.

Emily Bibbings, who took her 17-year-old daughter to Ipswich Hospital on June 10, said: "I can understand why people are going straight to A&E but the poor staff there are run ragged.

"Then when you throw into the mix all of the extra precautions they are having to take with Covid it is a wonder they are still standing."