Winter hits hospital hard

IPSWICH Hospital could be around £4million in debt by the end of the month, mainly due to a huge surge of emergency admissions during the winter.Huge overspends had to be made throughout the winter months, with more than £1million being spent on agency nurses and locums in a bid to open as many beds as possible and fill vacancies.

IPSWICH Hospital could be around £4million in debt by the end of the month, mainly due to a huge surge of emergency admissions during the winter.

Huge overspends had to be made throughout the winter months, with more than £1million being spent on agency nurses and locums in a bid to open as many beds as possible and fill vacancies.

And the huge numbers of people needing treatment over the winter hit waiting list targets badly with more than 300 patients waiting more than 17 weeks for an outpatient appointment, compared to the target of 60 in January.

However the Trust has requested funding of £3.5million for the activity over performance and is currently discussing this with Primary Care Trusts in the region.

With an unpredicted rise in emergency admissions to the hospital, elected operations had to be cancelled because there were not enough beds.

This has also cost the hospital trust, adding to their debts.

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Despite the money struggle, new efficiency ratings published by the Department of Health have recently highlighted Ipswich Hospital as one of the most efficient hospitals in the country with how they make use of the money they are given.

Changes have been made to reduce the debts such as increasing the number of beds, discharging people earlier in the day to free up beds and reducing the number of people admitted the day before an operation.

Jan Rowsell, hospital spokeswoman said: "We understand the reasons behind what has caused this difference between the money we had and the money we need and that is the large rise in emergency admissions.

"Because we are treating more people we are using more of everything like drugs and patient appliances (such as bandages).

"We have to achieve financial balance and we are working with our partners in primary care to look at ways in which we can resolve this."

The rise in admissions has also hit waiting lists with 362 patients waiting more than 17 weeks for an outpatient appointment, compared to the target of 60 in January.

The trust also had 381 patients waiting more than nine months for an inpatient operation, compared to a target of 100 although there were improvements in other areas such as the specialities.

To add to this 520 people failed to turn up to their appointments during January.

Ms Rowsell said: "The sharp rise in emergency numbers for many months does have a major impact on our abilities to bring people in.

"We are pulling out every single stop to reach our targets by the end of March and everyone in the hospital is working really hard.

"If we don't achieve it, it won't be through lack of trying and we are really hopeful that we will achieve it.

"However if it comes to the crunch between reaching a target and or caring for someone who needs emergency care we have to put clinical priority at the top of the agenda."

n. What do you think? Write to us at Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

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