Hospital forced to reopen closed ward

PRESSURE on Ipswich Hospital forced staff to temporarily reopen a ward that was closed earlier this year, The Evening Star can reveal today.An unprecedented surge of patients saw the hospital on 'black alert' - the highest state of alert - for most of last week.

PRESSURE on Ipswich Hospital forced staff to temporarily reopen a ward that was closed earlier this year, The Evening Star can reveal today.

An unprecedented surge of patients saw the hospital on 'black alert' - the highest state of alert - for most of last week.

Andrew Reed, chief executive, said: “We had an exceptionally busy week last week.

“At one point on Wednesday we had over 40 patients to locate in beds, without the beds to be able to do that.

“In my experience, that's pretty unprecedented.

“We did have to temporarily reopen the Shotley ward, which was one of the wards we closed.”

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The hospital's board agreed to close 34 beds in August in a bid to cut costs, but said the changes would be beneficial for patients.

Mr Reed denied last week's situation meant the hospital should have kept the wards open.

He said: “It is often the case that hospitals have to open extra beds. Up until last week we had been coping very well with the number of beds we've got.”

Mr Reed said the most important thing was that everyone who needed a bed got one, people did not have to wait more than four hours in A&E, and few operations were cancelled.

He said: “In the end there were only two operations which had to be cancelled and on that Wednesday we did not have a single breach of the A&E waiting time.

“We are obviously disappointed to have had to cancel any operations but those patients will be back in hospital within the next three weeks.”

He added: “Despite the fact that it was so busy, the A&E team hit the target of 98pc of patients being seen within four hours that week. They really pulled out all the stops.”

Mr Reed said the hospital planned for demand to rise at this time of year but that it would usually expect to see more things like respiratory problems. Last week saw a huge rise in patients for no apparent reason.

He added the hospital expects demand to rise again over the coming weeks. It is currently on 'green', the lowest level of alert, again.

All hospitals across the region operate using a system of alert levels.

Black: There are no beds available in the hospital

Red: There are less than eight beds available

Amber: There are less than 20 beds available

Green: There are no problems with bed availability

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