Hospital on highest alert over beds

CONCERNS have today been raised about how Ipswich Hospital will cope with demand if community beds are closed.The hospital had an exceptionally busy weekend which saw it placed on black alert - the highest state of alert - with no ordinary beds available for patients.

CONCERNS have today been raised about how Ipswich Hospital will cope with demand if community beds are closed.

The hospital had an exceptionally busy weekend which saw it placed on black alert - the highest state of alert - with no ordinary beds available for patients.

Around 30 beds which had been closed last year had to be temporarily reopened.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the hospital, said: “We have been extremely busy but we have not had to cancel any operations or routine care. It was business as usual for the hospital although we have had an unprecedented number of emergency admissions.

“The important thing is that the hospital did not come to a standstill. We met all the waiting-time targets in the accident and emergency department and people did not have operations cancelled.”

It is the second time Ipswich Hospital has been on black alert in the last two months. It was on the same state of alert during the week beginning December 12.

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Dr Alan Wimhurst, a retired GP and president of the Bartlet Hospital's League of Friends, said he thinks things will only get worse.

He said: “The Bartlet has been partly closed already and I know there are people in Ipswich Hospital who are waiting to go there.

“The pressure will build and it won't be relieved.

“For some reason people seem to view the Bartlet as a Felixstowe hospital but it isn't, it's been the great pressure relief valve for Ipswich Hospital. Patients who could not be moved anywhere else were moved there.”

Ms Rowsell said: “Of course the Bartlet was one of a range of community hospitals where people leaving an acute hospital could be cared for, but 500 to 600 people a week are discharged from the hospital and only about six or seven of them would have gone in to a community hospital. We need to put it in context.”

She said that changing the way care was provided, by putting more care teams in the community, would mean less admissions to hospital.

The weekend was a busy one for hospitals across the region. Addenbrooke's in Cambridge was also on black alert.

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

They are:

Black: There are no beds available in the hospital (except emergency ones which have had to be specially opened).

Red: There are less than eight ordinary beds available for patients.

Amber: There are less than 20 remaining beds unoccupied.

Green: There are no problems with bed availability.

Ipswich Hospital was on black alert from Friday afternoon until Saturday afternoon.

It was then on red alert, meaning there were less than eight beds free, from Saturday afternoon until Sunday evening when the alert level was once again upped to black.

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