Hospital bosses to take action over increased demands on A&E department

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury.

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury.

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Health bosses are to take action over a dramatic increase in the number of patients attending A&E - some with conditions that could have been treated elsewhere.

West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, saw 747 people going to A&E over the May Day bank holiday earlier this month compared to 618 the same time last year.

Meanwhile, 288 more patients accessed A&E in April than the previous year and last year there was an increase of 3,600 compared to 2011/12.

However, figures for last week’s bank holiday dropped slightly from 713 in 2012 to 689 this year.

Conditions dealt with over the bank holidays included ear ache, sore throat, migrain and wound redressing.

It follows last week’s warning by Dr Christopher Browning, a GP and chairman of the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, that patients are turning up at A&E with conditions that can be dealt with at home with a well stocked medicine cabinet, by asking their pharmacist for advice, calling NHS 111 or making an appointment with their GP.

Bosses at the hospital say they have developed a detailed action plan to deal with the increased numbers, which is a national issue affecting A&E departments.

A spokesman said: “This includes extending our existing emergency assessment areas, investing in a new clinical decision unit for upto eight patients who do not need to be admitted but whose treatment may take a few hours, and changing consultant rotas.

“We will continue to work closely with colleagues across health and social care, overseen by the clinical commissioning group, to deliver this action plan.”

A spokesman for the clinical commissioning group said they are working closely with the hospital and the wider community health services to ‘ensure local people access the right service for their complaint and that our local urgent care pathway is sustainable for the future’.