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Norwich hospital bed shortage worsens

PUBLISHED: 06:30 07 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:16 02 July 2010

Hospital bosses are struggling to cope.

Hospital bosses are struggling to cope.

Dan Grimmer

Norfolk's biggest hospital is struggling to cope, with patients still being put in treatment rooms because there are not enough beds available to treat the rising number of admissions.

Dan Grimmer

Norfolk's biggest hospital is struggling to cope, with patients still being put in treatment rooms because there are not enough beds available to treat the rising number of admissions.

Despite an additional 54 beds being opened at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital over the past few months there is still an “unprecedented demand” for services.

A year ago today the hospital first experienced such problems that staff were forced to put patients who needed immediate care in rooms reserved for treatment and it was described by unions as the “worst night” the hospital had experienced.

Bosses have made plans since then to clear the pressure but instead it has mounted and the recent weather has made the situation worse.

Staff would normally treat 50 fractures between Christmas and New Year but this year they treated more than 110 patients. On New Year's Day alone 308 patients came through the doors at A&E. In the past year there has been a 16pc rise in medical emergency admissions and 11pc rise in A& E attendances.

Harry Seddon from Unison said: “At this stage last year the staff trade unions were quite properly critical of management because they had chosen not to increase our bed numbers ready for last winter.

“This year the trust has listened, has put effort and money into increasing staffing and ward space and has managed to open additional beds ready for this winter.

“However the problem appears to be that patient numbers have increased faster than anyone expected - as well as rapidly increasing 'medical' emergency admissions, the snow and ice has caused a big increase in emergency admissions to falls and fractures.

“Despite good management effort to improve the situation, nursing and other staff are facing the same unremitting pressure and difficulty in delivering good care to even greater numbers of patients.”

Hospital bosses insist there is an escalation process in place and this is being adhered to with the view to improving service provision in the future.

A spokesman said: “The very cold weather recently has led to a significant increase in numbers of patients with injuries related to the wintry weather. That rise in the number of patients is currently being felt across the country.

“Over the past couple of months we have opened 54 additional beds to help us cope with increased demand in winter. In common with other hospitals across the region we are currently on black alert and we have opened our clinical escalation areas.”

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