A&E under pressure as patient levels return to pre-pandemic levels
- Credit: Kayleigh Garwood
Patients at Ipswich Hospital accident and emergency department have been left 'queuing out the door', as attendance figures reach pre-pandemic levels.
Ipswich and West Suffolk Hospital say their accident and emergency departments are managing an increase in patients.
While rates have not surpassed the levels seen in early 2020, the increase in the number of patients visiting A&E compared to recent months has put huge pressures on staff, who have to spend more time changing PPE between patients.
Neill Moloney, Managing Director of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester and Ipswich Hospital said: "The numbers of people attending our accident and emergency departments are almost back to what they were before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We think this could be for several reasons, including people feeling more comfortable coming to our hospitals again and some have been dealing with their symptoms at home for too long and are now in need of our care.
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“Our teams are always here to safely provide urgent and emergency treatment for anyone who is very unwell and needs it, but please remember there are other services that can help with minor illnesses and injury."
A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are continuing to see more people coming forward for emergency care.
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"We are working hard to see and treat people as quickly as possible. We opened a new rapid assessment area in February, and this week we will open another new area with extra consultation rooms.
"We will always be here for you in an emergency, though for less urgent care you might be able to get treatment and advice more quickly through your GP surgery or community pharmacy.
“If you need treatment, but it’s not an emergency, call NHS 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk first. You can also contact your local pharmacy or GP practice for help and advice.”
Patients who have attended Ipswich Hospital recently have praised staff for the way they were treated but some have reported long waiting times and queues.
Ipswich and Colchester accident and emergency
Mum Kayleigh Garwood said her 14-year-old son Jayden was treated "exceptionally well by an A&E doctor" at the end of May, however she did have concerns about the length of their wait.
She said: "The problem with the "new way" is all patients are put together, adults and children are mixed which makes times longer for children to be seen."
Emily Bibbings, who had to take her daughter Mia, 17, to Ipswich A&E on June, 10 said: " My daughter was whisked through before I had even checked her in.
"The staff were brilliant despite being super busy and we are so grateful for the care and treatment my daughter received."
She added: "The A&E doctor said they are more busy than normal as people would rather go to A&E than have a telephone appointment with their GP.
" When we left five hours later there was a queue out the door and round the corner."
"I can totally accept that people are not calling their GP's as they want to be seen face to face," Miss Bibbings continued.
"I can understand why people are going straight to A&E but the poor staff there are run ragged.
"Then when you throw into the mix all of the extra precautions they are having to take with Covid it is a wonder they are still standing."
David Jolly posted: "This is going to happen more until doctors see patients properly.
"Claydon doctors surgery is closing at the end of the month with only two weeks notice.
"Not enough time to get 3,000 patients registered with local practises, watch this space!"
West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds
Despite more people presenting at A&E for treatment at West Suffolk Hospital, patients have thanked staff for the speed they were seen.
Helena West said: "My son was there on Saturday morning, staff were super efficient and caring."
Another patient, who wishes to remain anonymous said they visited West Suffolk Hospital over the recent Bank Holiday weekend.
The said: "Triage was within the time allocated, I had to wait a further three and a half hours before I was seen by an A&E doctor.
"There was a steady stream of walking wounded and ill people and patients arriving by ambulance.
"They were very thorough with the diagnosis, with a positive outcome."
You can read more patient opinion on accident emergency departments in Suffolk, here on the Ipswich Star Facebook page.