Families, friends and carers across Suffolk are being asked to look after hospital patients so they can be discharged in a bid to ease Christmas crisis on hospital wards.

Health chiefs are asking for help in a bid to discharge those who are fit to leave hospital wards as the threat of chaos increases.

They say a combination of high levels of flu, increasing numbers of Covid cases, growing concern over levels of Strep A and scarlet fever infections, and strike action in neighbouring areas - which could lead to a knock-on effect locally - is putting staff and services under incredible pressure.

Any help that relatives and friends can give in getting patients out of hospital will make a huge difference.

In many cases, patients in our hospitals are ready and well enough to be discharged. However, for those who can go home, friends, family and carers could step in by providing appropriate, temporary support. 

If this is the case, they would be encouraged to make contact with the nurse in charge of their loved one’s care.

Hospital teams and social workers will liaise with anyone able to provide this support, to ensure that they too are supported and to deliver a long-term solution for the patient’s welfare and recovery.

Dr Andrew Kelso, medical director at NHS Suffolk and North East Essex, said: “Hospital staff across the patch are doing an incredible job during this historically challenging time, but we know that their burden could be lessened if we could discharge those medically fit patients who remain in hospital only because the support they need at home is not yet in place.

“I urge anyone who could offer support to a loved one who is well enough to go home to come forward – they’ll not only be helping that patient on the road to recovery, they’ll also be giving a big boost to the staff at our local hospitals, meaning they can focus all their efforts on the very sickest patients who need their care.”