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Norfolk hospital under pressure

PUBLISHED: 06:25 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 08:54 01 August 2010

Dan Grimmer

Bosses at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have admitted that they are under "unprecedented pressure" this winter as patient numbers continue to soar.

Dan Grimmer

Bosses at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have admitted that they are under “unprecedented pressure” this winter as patient numbers continue to soar.

The dire impact of rising attendances at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was spelled out at a board of governors meeting this week, with fears raised about the knock-on effects on a wide range of services if the problem is not tackled.

These include:

t Bed blocking - people ready to be discharged but forced to stay in hospital because there is nowhere else for them to move onto for appropriate treatment

t More operations cancelled as emergency demand reaches an all time high

t Rising MRSA and other infection rates as under-pressure staff could “miss” key hygiene targets

Speaking at a meeting of the Council of Governors the hospital's chairman David Prior described the bed situation as “very serious” and said “this year we really are seeing unprecedented pressure”.

On the same day a ward at the N&N was choking under pressure - with many patients in Coltishall Ward forced to wait up to eight hours to be treated.

Figures at the end of October showed accident and emergency attendances were up 11.3pc on last year, elective surgery (non emergency) has risen 6.3pc in the past year, non-elective surgery is up 4.5pc and there are 6.5pc more new outpatients this year.

There is also a 16pc rise in medical emergency admissions and more than 500 patients over the past 28 days than this time last year. Bosses have researched why so many more people are going through A&E but are unable to pinpoint a single reason.

Anna Dugdale, chief executive of the N&N, said: “Our staff are doing a marvellous job in coping with the increase in demand and we have looked at all the factors which might be contributing to the increase. There is no clear cause of this change, but more of a combination of issues such as an ageing population, higher patient expectations combined with shorter waiting times.”

There are already 20 more beds and are plans for 36 more temporary beds between November and January to cope with winter pressures.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “There is obviously a flaw in the system where people are turning to A&E at the N&N in the absence of other services. It is of great cost to the NHS that patients are going there inappropriately. We are spending a fortune on emergency admissions, yet we are not investing in community services which can prevent a crisis occurring.

“The NHS is in crisis but it seems particularly bad right now in Norfolk. Basically we are getting it all wrong.”

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