HEALTH bosses say Colchester General Hospital is “coping” despite a spike in patients over the New Year’s weekend.

A total of 266 people visited A&E on New Year’s Eve, which was up by 17 per cent from 226 in 2016.

New Year’s Day also saw record attendances of 267, representing an 11 per cent rise on the previous year.

Anticipating a busy night, Colchester Hospital had appealed for nurses and healthcare assistants to work an extra shift, publishing a call-to-action over Twitter.

A spokesman for the hospital trust was unable to quote how many individuals stepped forward but explained it is common practice during especially busy times.

She said: “Like many hospitals we have been extremely busy over both Christmas and New Year holiday times.

“There is lot of pressure on the hospital services as we are seeing a great number of patients who need urgent and emergency care, and many of our patients are frail and are older people.

“Despite these pressures, we are coping thanks to great teamwork and support from all our partners.”

North Colchester Healthcare Centre’s walk-in experienced a dip this year in the number of visiting patients.

Between December 30 and January 2, 697 patients were seen compared with 740 for the same period last year.

Although the pressure has eased, the advice for patients to consider the alternatives before A&E remains the same.

A spokesman for the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Our local system is under serious pressure at the moment.

“The priority is being given to those patients with urgent life threatening injuries and illnesses.”

Less than 250 attendances were recorded at Colchester Hospital yesterday and the focus is shifting to patient discharge.

NHS-wide the emphasis is on reducing the number of 'red' days which patients spend on Inpatient wards, in both acute and community settings, that do not contribute to their discharge.

The spokesman for the hospital trust added: “This week we are really concentrating on getting patients home.

“We have a campaign called Red2Green which means each patient plan to be discharged is reviewed every single day by the team of clinicians caring for that patient.

“All of our partners, including commissioners, are involved in this work.

“We’re asking people to think NHS 111, which is a 24-hour advice line, their pharmacy and from today onwards, their GP.”