Parts of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust 'busier than they have ever been', says Craig Black
Parts of the NHS trust for West Suffolk Hospital are 'busier than they have ever been', its interim chief executive has said.
Craig Black made the admission in a board meeting earlier today as the chief operating officer of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust admitted the coming winter months would prove 'incredibly challenging'.
"We have had our busiest ever days through the emergency department, some of our busiest days in the summer, and as we look forward to winter that creates a level of nervousness in the organisation," said Mr Black.
He added: “Pressure is being felt in other parts of the system.
"Social care are busier than they have ever been, and the gap between capacity and demand is bigger than it's ever been. Primary care is busier than it's ever been.”
Mr Black's comments came as the trust revealed its emergency department attendances fell to 7500 in September, with daily attendances reducing from the peaks seen in July and August.
The number of patients waiting over 12 hours in the department rose 'significantly' to 155 across June, July and August however.
Delayed admissions caused by 'internal bed pressures' were another problem, with the average time at 390 minutes last month.
Helen Beck, chief operating officer for the trust, described the amount of people waiting 12 hours in the department as 'shocking'.
"Pre-Covid or even pre this summer we wouldn't have seen that in a year let alone a month, in fact we were usually in single digits," she said.
“It is a horrible horrible thing to see in a report.”
Mrs Beck said the upcoming winter months would be 'incredibly challenging' for the trust.
"Because of the way we are working we have lost any flex in the system, and so the ability to deal with peaks and troughs in activity," she said.
The trust also revealed there were currently 14 patients in hospital with coronavirus.
Thirteeen cases of long-Covid among staff across the trust were reported as well.
The 'internal bed pressures' revealed by the trust come, in part, due to significant works being carried out at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, to replace old reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) beams.
The remedial works are due to be finished before Christmas, although they have left some beds out of action, causing operation delays to patients.