‘NHS workers in Ipswich and east Suffolk should be thanked for hard work during challenging winter’

The A&E department at Ipswich Hospital is expected to see a surge of patients this winter. Picture:

The A&E department at Ipswich Hospital is expected to see a surge of patients this winter. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Keeping staff morale high will be crucial in getting health services in Suffolk through the busy winter period, NHS bosses have said.

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket. Picture: PAGEPIX

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket. Picture: PAGEPIX - Credit: Archant

Plans for coping with increased demand during the colder months were discussed at a meeting of the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) governing body today.

Jan Thomas, chief contracts officer, said there were three key elements of this year’s winter surge plan: making sure all eligible patients received a flu vaccination, treating as many people as possible outside of hospital to avoid admissions, and ensuring patients were not held up in a hospital bed for longer than they needed to be.

The CCG’s aim is for only 20 beds at any one time at Ipswich Hospital to be taken up by patients whose discharge had been delayed.

Ms Thomas added: “If we lose flow in hospital that will knock all the way back to the front door of A&E and we know for safety reasons it’s important to get people seen as quickly as possible in ED (emergency department).”

Dr Ed Garratt. Picture: BEN CARMICHAEL/SUFFOLK CCGS

Dr Ed Garratt. Picture: BEN CARMICHAEL/SUFFOLK CCGS - Credit: Archant

For the first time ever, the CCG is also taking into account added pressures on primary care and mental health services within its winter plan.

Chairman Mark Shenton said the performance of A&E would be used as a barometer to tell how the whole system was coping with the influx of patients.

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While Ed Garratt, chief officer, said: “One of the biggest risks is the morale of staff in the winter.”

Ms Thomas said: “We have targets that are very important for very good reasons and actually the more it’s difficult to achieve, the more people are giving their heart and soul to make sure they are getting that achieved, so we need to keep thanking people.”

Dr Imran Qureshi. Picture: PAGEPIX

Dr Imran Qureshi. Picture: PAGEPIX - Credit: Archant

Dr Shenton agreed and said staff morale was “really important”.

Imran Qureshi, clinical executive chairman, spoke about the success of a scheme previously carried out at a care home near Leiston.

On the Friday before the long Christmas weekend last year, doctors went to Norwood House and helped residents with any health concerns as well as supporting staff.

As a result, Dr Qureshi said there was only one phone call made to an out-of-hours service from the centre over the four days, with no hospital admissions, ambulance call outs or A&E attendances.

He added: “I would like to think it’s because we put really robust plans in place before the long weekend.”

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