Hospital under pressure

PRESSURES on Ipswich Hospital's accident and emergency department forced ambulance staff to man a makeshift waiting room in the hospital's fracture clinic, it emerged today.

PRESSURES on Ipswich Hospital's accident and emergency department forced ambulance staff to man a makeshift waiting room in the hospital's fracture clinic, it emerged today.

The fracture clinic had to be opened as an over spill waiting room late yesterday afternoon as the hospital reached its capacity.

It is at least the third time the clinic has been used as a waiting room in the last four weeks.

A spokesman for the East Anglian Ambulance Service, said the fracture clinic was opened at around 4.30pm to prevent patients from having to wait in ambulances. The situation returned to normal by around 8.30pm.

He said: "We could see that things were heating up so we took action. We were aware the hospital was reaching capacity and that ambulances may end up waiting outside if we didn't take action.

"We opened the fracture clinic in conjunction with the hospital and we had ambulance staff in the hospital looking after the patients.

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"So that the ambulances aren't waiting with patients on board and to allow our ambulance to go out again, we man the fracture clinic in the hospital until people can be admitted into accident and emergency."

The spokesman said that patients would still be treated according to the urgency.

"There is still a triage system so if somebody is, for example, having a cardiac arrest they will still go straight in for treatment."

The ambulance service spokesman added that there were no more than six people in the fracture clinic at any one time.

As revealed in the Evening Star last month, the fracture clinic also had to be opened for A&E patients on October 10 and October 25.

This came during a month in which the hospital was also forced to divert some ambulances with non-emergency cases to nearby hospitals because of a lack of available beds.

The huge pressure on beds was highlighted again by the Star yesterday when a nurse came forward to reveal that extra beds are having to be squeezed on to wards to cope with the demands.

Hospital spokeswoman Jan Rowsell said: "Monday afternoons are our busiest times. We had a rush of emergency admissions mid-afternoon yesterday and we have got immense pressure on beds.

"We have said, since we started the work to create brighter, safer wards that this may happen, and we apologise profusely to anyone who may have been inconvenienced by it."

One ward a week is closed at the moment while the work is carried out, meaning the hospital has around 24 beds less than normal.

Much of the pressure on beds is expected to be relieved when this work is finished, and by the opening of a new Acute Medical Unit at the end of this month, which will give patients faster access to treatment.

Have you been affected by the pressures at Ipswich Hospital? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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