West Suffolk Hospital boss says more capacity needed in health system to meet growing demand

PUBLISHED: 17:25 11 February 2018 | UPDATED: 07:18 12 February 2018

Stephen Dunn with hospital staff. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Stephen Dunn with hospital staff. Picture: CONTRIBUTED


The chief executive of the region’s only ‘outstanding’ hospital has said more beds will be needed across Suffolk’s care system to meet future demand.

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: GREGG BROWNWest Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: GREGG BROWN

West Suffolk Hospital has experienced its busiest ever winter, with on average an extra 28 patients visiting its A&E every day compared to the previous year and a 6% increase in admissions.

On January 2, action was taken to open “additional surge” beds at the hospital because it was fully occupied.

With pressures “far exceeding” expectations, boss Dr Stephen Dunn said capacity needed to be reviewed ahead of next winter.

He added: “In Suffolk we have got the second oldest county in the country. In 2012, one in five was over 65, in 2021 it’s projected to be one in four, by 2037 it’s projected to be one in three, and so we have an ageing population and as a consequence of the various health conditions that we have as we age that puts year-on-year pressure on health services.

“People can help by staying fit, staying active, making right personal choices around not smoking, exercising, eating the right things, but equally there will be year-on-year increases in demands on health and care services and despite being an ‘outstanding’ hospital we are not immune to some of those pressures and I do think we will need to look to invest in beds in the community and in the hospital to meet future demands.”

Despite challenges, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) was awarded the highest possible rating from the Care Quality Commission in January.

Dr Dunn said this achievement was down to the trust’s “phenomenal” staff, and the “innovative” initiatives being introduced.

These include a “support to go home service”, where patients awaiting social care packages are given interim support in their homes by WSFT staff so they are able to leave hospital. Since September this scheme has saved more than 760 hospital beds days, Dr Dunn said.

The trust has invested in rehabilitation beds at sites in Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket for patients fit to leave hospital but still on the road to recovery.

WSFT is one of a handful of trusts in the country to employ a public health consultant whose job it is to find ways to prevent illnesses.

The hospital has also managed to shave a day off the average length of stay by cracking down on delays in care through initiatives like the Red to Green scheme.

While WSFT is doing all it can to evolve services to meet needs, Dr Dunn called on families to help by ensuring patients were able to leave hospital as soon as possible so beds were only filled with the 400 sickest people in west Suffolk.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sudbury Mercury visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sudbury Mercury staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sudbury Mercury account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other popular content

An 82-year-old woman who passed out in shock when she realised her bag had been stolen is warning others to be vigilant.

Ipswich Building Society has donated more than £6,000 to nine Suffolk based charities from its Mutual Advantage affinity saving accounts programme.

12 minutes ago

Devastated colleagues of an ever smiling, popular young pub worker tragically killed in a road crash have paid a moving tribute to her, saying life “won’t be the same without her”.


When you’re hunting for a new home, what can you buy for around £300,000? How about part of a unique pub conversion in Ipswich or a bungalow in Brandon?

Show Job Lists

Local weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 6°C

Newsletter Sign Up

Sudbury Mercury weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24