Pressure to grow on Suffolk hospitals as Covid admissions rise

Paying tribute to the NHS - chief executive Dr Stephen Dunn Picture: West Suffolk NHS Foundation Tru

Chief executive of the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Stephen Dunn said extra Covid admissions and staff having to self-isolate could put pressure on hospitals - Credit: West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trus

Rising hospital admissions from Covid-19 coupled with a programme of urgent non-elective surgery could place additional pressures on Suffolk’s hospitals this summer, it has been warned.

Hospital rates in Suffolk are currently similar to those seen at the end of the summer last year, according to public health bosses, but admitted that more hospitalisations were starting to be seen again.

Dr Stephen Dunn, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust chief executive told Thursday’s Health and Wellbeing Board meeting, comprising council and health experts, that demand for hospital services was already at pre-pandemic levels, and additional Covid-19 admissions coupled with members of staff having to self-isolate could put pressure on the system.

He backed the new “cautious, courteous and caring” message from Public Health Suffolk for emerging from restrictions.

He said: “From a hospital and community provider perspective we are seeing increased rates and increased hospitalisations.

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"It is still very, very small, but this is alongside huge increases in urgent non-elective activity, so we are as busy as we were before the pandemic, and that is placing quite a lot of pressure on services.

“As the rates go up, that will inevitably increase hospitalisations along with the other non-Covid activity we are dealing with.

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"That will provide a degree of pressure inevitably on services, so that is why the messaging around caution, around caring, around courtesy, is so important because if that is combined with a degree of isolation, the pressure on staff will increase.

“It’s important we are cautious, it is important we reflect and understand just how there remains quite a degree of pressure on the NHS and the wider health and care system, but I think the way we are working means we can continue to provide the services that our public expect.

“While rates are low comparatively, in terms of both other parts of the country and where we have been, there are challenges associated with the rise in infections, so let’s make sure we continue to focus on making sure our public is safe.”

Public Health Suffolk said the county’s infection rates were around two weeks behind other parts of the country, meaning they were not yet as high but had begun increasing.

Director Stuart Keeble said: “We are starting to see an increase in cases in hospitals. It is not as large as other areas but our rates aren’t as high. The advantage of us going later is that actually we might to start see a downward curve before we see the same levels as other parts of the country. It is something to consider with regard to pressure on our health and care services as it is.”

Latest data released Thursday afternoon indicated that there were 1,106 new positive Covid-19 cases in the county in the week up to July 14, meaning the underlying case rate was around 115.2 cases per 100,000 people.

That compares to 238.5 for the East of England and 341.5 in England as a whole.

There were zero deaths in the week up to July 2 in the county.

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