Hospitals still feeling pressure

A Norfolk hospital remains on the most serious black alert as it continues to experience an influx of patients due to the cold weather.

The James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, has been on black alert since New Year’s Eve and has been forced to cancel some scheduled operations because of a lack of beds.

A spokesman for the hospital said: “Demand remains much higher than expected for this time of year and the continuing black alert status reflects this. The alert is due to the full range of pressures that all hospitals come under at this time of year as we deal with an increase in health problems associated with the colder weather.

“In order to alleviate some of the pressures on our services, we would urge anyone who needs medical treatment for minor injuries and illness not to automatically go to A&E but consider all the other options.”

Both the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital remain on “red” status - one step lower than black.

Dr Geoff Hunnam, medical director at the QEH, said: “We have been very busy over Christmas and the New Year. We have had lots of sick patients with respiratory symptoms and currently we are pretty short of befs and have cancelled some elective surgery.

“The flu is more or less as expected bu clearly we are encouraging people to seek advice from their community pharmacists or GP rather than come to hospital.”

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The West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds does not use the colour-coded system but a spokesman for the hospital said: “We are very busy, but our winter plans are helping us to cope and we are not turning anybody away.”

Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital, which treats patients from Norfolk and Suffolk for some rarer conditions, is also on black alert, but said today that it was still “business as usual”.

An Addenbrooke’s spokesman said: “Like other hospitals across the country, we are seeing an increase in the number of patients with flu - but Addenbrooke’s is operating as usual.

“We are asking visitors who have flu-like symptoms or norovirus to stay away from the hospital to help us protect patients and staff. Children should not visit unless it is essential.

“Patients who feel ill with flu-like symptoms just before they are due to come into hospital should contact us to discuss whether we need to rearrange their appointment.”