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Bury St Edmunds West Suffolk Hospital NHS trust declared critical internal incident due to 'immense pressure'



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The NHS trust which runs West Suffolk Hospital declared a critical internal incident last week due to 'immense pressure' on its services.

The scale of the challenges West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust faced were outlined in papers to its board which is meeting this morning.

A report from Chief Executive Craig Black said there was 'immense pressure' on services which was taking a toll on staff.

West Suffolk Hospital's trust declared a critical internal incident last week
West Suffolk Hospital's trust declared a critical internal incident last week

Due to Covid-19 resurging, the Bury St Edmunds hospital's ongoing estate maintenance programme impacting capacity and the warm weather leading to an increase in demand, the trust declared a critical internal incident last week.

The incident was extended but a spokesman confirmed today that it was officially stepped down at 5pm on Tuesday.

In the report, Mr Black said: "We have, and will continue to do everything in our power to mitigate this pressure, including working with external partners to support discharges and using bank and agency staff to fill gaps in staffing to maintain our current service level.

Craig Black, chief executive of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: West Suffolk Hospital
Craig Black, chief executive of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: West Suffolk Hospital

"We recognise, and continue to be amazed by the unbelievable commitment our staff have showed through this period, and we will work to support them to ensure that they and our patients are cared for.

"None of this is easy for staff and I am urging staff to take up our wellbeing opportunities and look after themselves, and to speak up should you have any growing concerns or ideas you would like to raise."

Today, SuffolkNews revealed thousands of working days were being lost across the Trust due to staff suffering from stress, anxiety and depression.

The board was also presented with a report which showed that the number of concerns about the working culture at the hospital trust had increased with issues raised including 'staff are broken' and 'people just want to cry'.

In his report, Mr Black also addressed waiting times at the Trust.

He said the number of patients waiting 104 weeks or more had 'dropped significantly' from 411 in February to 39 as of July 5.

Of these 39 patients, 23 opted to wait to be treated at the Trust, and 16 patients are currently unable to receive treatment due to clinical reasons.

He added: "We are also running extended theatre lists and clinics, including at weekends; increased diagnostics to support timely access to scans; and offering digital appointments where appropriate – all to try to treat patients as soon as possible."