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New £15m suite ‘urgently needed’ at region’s busiest hospital or patients could face ‘serious consequences’

PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:43 20 December 2017

An artist impression of the one-storey extension for interventional radiology units at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: NNUH

An artist impression of the one-storey extension for interventional radiology units at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: NNUH

NNUH

A bid has been put in for a £15m extension to the region’s busiest hospital as current services were “neither safe nor sustainable”.

An artist impression of the one-storey extension for interventional radiology units at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: NNUHAn artist impression of the one-storey extension for interventional radiology units at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: NNUH

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) is seeking permission to add an extra storey to provide better interventional radiology and cardiology services.

Interventional radiology can include x-rays, ultrasounds and MRI scans amongst other techniques, whilst an extra cardiology catheter laboratory would diagnose and treat heart conditions.

In documents sent to South Norfolk Council, it said demand in both areas had increased but “no additional physical capacity has been created”.

It was feared the current arrangement was risky. The local clinical commissioning group lead had “repeatedly raised concerns” as “the current position is neither safe nor sustainable”.

Although staff had made changes, the facilities had “reached their limits and service capacity has been reached and surpassed.

“As a result, patients are waiting longer for treatment with the effect that more patients are facing emergency procedures as their health deteriorates waiting for routine procedures.”

If approved, four new interventional radiography unit suites would be built over 1,487sqm, which would make room for a fourth cardiology catheter laboratory.

The project would cost around £15m.

The trust confirmed it had applied for half of that amount from the Department of Health.

But they did not say where the other half of the cash would come from at this stage.

An NNUH spokesman said: “NNUH is the only provider of this specialist service in East Anglia and as such demand for this service is very high.

“An expansion is needed as delays in treatment could have serious consequences for some patients.

“At the moment the trust is working round the clock to provide these services from its existing facilities.

“But this is not sustainable and an expansion of capacity is urgently needed.”

The hospital’s most recent annual report recognised the pressure services were under. It said: “The hospital is too small to cope with the huge demands on our services.”

What is interventional radiology?

An NNUH spokesman said: “Interventional radiology provides a minimally invasive alternative to open surgery.

“Using images as guidance during the procedure, the operator is able to treat a range of diseases and emergencies as well as providing procedures to extend and increase quality of life, not available through traditional surgical routes.

“The benefit to the patient and trust is that most interventional radiology procedures can potentially be carried out on as a day case or require only a short stay in hospital.”

Planning documents said there was “little or no provision” in Norfolk and Waveney for interventional radiology or cardiology catheter laboratory services, for which NNUH is the regional lead. Patients from both the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn, were referred to NNUH for these procedures.

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