Ipswich: Hospital’s A&E team misses out on government funding to relieve pressure on emergency teams
Ipswich Hospital’s A&E department has missed out on vital government funding to allievate pressure on emergency teams.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt this week outlined radical changes to improve care for vulnerable older people as a means of reducing admissions to hospital.
Alongside specific plans to support A&E departments in the short-term this winter, Mr Hunt set out proposals to tackle problems in the long-term – starting with care for vulnerable older patients with complex health problems.
Those changes mean enhancing joined-up care spanning GPs, social care and A&E departments, overseen by a named GP.
The Department of Health said the changes will reduce the need for repeated trips to A&E, speed up diagnosis, treatment and discharge home again when patients do need to go into hospital.
Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for health said it is “disappointing” that Ipswich Hospital’s A&E was not among the 53 trusts set to benefit from the £250million set aside to offer immediate help ahead of this winter.
The money is designed to help employ extra consultant A&E cover at weekends, improve community end of life services and district nursing – all to help avoid non-emergency visits to A&E.
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In total the government has set aside £500m over the next two years.
He said: “It is very disappointing that Ipswich has not been included in this tranch of money.
“We do have a recently published Winter Beds Plan, released by the CCGs in July, which incorporates the hospital and social care.
“But it remains to be seen whether that will be adequate if we have another winter like last year, which was difficult to say the least.
“Ipswich Hospital’s emergency department is the default position for sick people in east Suffolk.
“The NHS 111 system in Suffolk is functioning relatively well as compared to the rest of England. And our out-of-hours service is relatively robust, although it does involve patients travelling a considerable distance and so must impact on those going to A&E.
“A&E at Ipswich is coping but one hopes the system will continue to look at investing in preventable measures so as to stop people needing to attend the department as their first port of call. The CCGs must look very carefully at that.”
Jan Ingle, Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman, said the omission was a sign the hospital’s A&E team are fairing better than others.
“The money has been targeted at those hospitals where the A&E performance is poorest,” she said. “Like all hospitals throughout the country we are seeing a significant increase in the number of people seeking treatment at the emergency department.
“We are working with all our partners and colleagues in the organisation to rise to this significant challenge.
“But other hospitals are facing even greater challenges than us.”