Senior nurses at Colchester Hospital have praised staff for their “fantastic team work” in treating a significantly higher number of children than a year ago.
Between October and December 2017, there were almost 300 more attendances to the children’s assessment unit compared to the same period in 2016.
“Our staff have been incredible, working together and going that extra mile”
This was combined with a particularly harsh winter, noted Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust, which cited an increase in the number of children contracting bronchiolitis as a main cause.
In an “extremely challenging” December, the unit’s team also had to stabilise eight children to be referred to critical care when normally the number is around two, noted the trust in a statement.
Gail Jenkins, matron for children’s acute services, said: “We have experienced an extremely challenging period and this shows how well we have worked closely together with services such as the emergency department, children’s assessment unit and neonatal team.
“We have seen many children present with breathing difficulties and extremely high numbers requiring high dependency care,” noted Ms Jenkins.
“We always expect a challenging period between late September and February-March time but this winter has seen significantly increased numbers of sick children attend the children’s unit for acute care,” she said.
The trust said consultant paediatricians had, on some days, reviewed the children on the inpatient unit two or three times in a day in an attempt to discharge them.
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Several children had been well enough to be allowed home with the support of the local community nursing team or by returning to the assessment unit for ongoing treatment with antibiotics, it stated.
Ms Jenkins said: “Our staff have been incredible, working together and going that extra mile at the end of their shifts to support their colleagues.
“We are also lucky here to have the right equipment and commitment from the multi-disciplinary team in place to support the sick children and their families who present to our service,” she added.
Ms Jenkins highlighted that the rise in numbers had come “amidst a backdrop” that has seen bed capacity “stretched to the limit” not only in Colchester, but nationwide.
“We used to see a difference in attendance rate between winter and summer, but, given the rising population, that is not so significant now,” she noted.