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‘Staff sacrificed time with family and friends’ - hospital board tell of difficult winter period

PUBLISHED: 17:33 26 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:33 26 January 2018

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk.

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk.

©Archant 2013

Staff at the James Paget University Hospital have been praised by board members with how they handled one of their busiest periods in recent memory.

The period between Christmas and New Year for the hospital was described by members as one of the most difficult spells the hospital has experienced in terms of demand, but the staff response was widely praised.

At one point, the hospital’s accident and emergency department reached 115pc capacity, while demand for ambulances also swelled to the point that on one occasion the hospital had 10 ambulances vying for its five unloading bays.

In her report to members, chief executive Christine Allen said: “The trust has seen an extremely challenging and demanding Christmas and New Year period.

“Many staff sacrificed time with family and friends to stay extra hours in the hospital during this period and have gone above and beyond what is required. Our staff have been exceptional.”

In a meeting heavily focussed on winter pressures, board members heard how already this year the hospital had been experiencing heavy demand for its services - particularly A&E.

In January, the department has seen 4.6pc more demand than the same month in 2017.

Andrew Palmer, the trust’s director of performance and planning, forecast that should this trend continue the hospital could see as many as 10,000 more patients this calendar year.

A report into the hospital’s work force also presented to the board’s members at the meeting told how more than 100 international nurses could soon arrive at the hospital, once pre-employment checks have been completed.

The hospital’s board heard 115 registered nurses had been offered positions, however, their arrivals were dependent on completing a number of procedures to allow them to work in the UK.

The same report also stated the hospital has been forced to rely on locum workers in 15 senior positions - six surgical and nine medical, with 26 senior posts currently unfilled.

A further concern was raised around an ageing nursing staff at the hospital- with 238 members of the current roster reaching potential retirement age in the next year.

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