Plans to ease hospital pressure

Health bosses have outlined plans to improve urgent and emergency health services, as demand for beds in our hospitals continues to soar.

Health officials have outlined plans to improve emergency health services as demand for beds in our hospitals continues to soar.

An update on the work being done by NHS Norfolk, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Kings Lynn was presented to the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee yesterday.

Bryan Heap, NHS Norfolk's medical director, said significant work was being done in the community to try to reduce levels of demand in casualty (A&E) departments. He added: "There are people who regularly attend A&E, and we call them 'frequent fliers'.

"We are working with GPs to identify these people. There is evidence that GPs can best identify them and work with us to try and reduce the number."

A seven-day audit of emergency admissions at the N&N revealed that at least 60pc of them could have been avoided.

This means there is a possibility that, if those patients had been seen by a GP or community services, they might not have attended A&E.

Most Read

Two main issues which caused rising demand in hospitals were highlighted at the meeting. These are round-the-clock drinking and "frequent fliers", who take up space in A&E unnecessarily.

Mr Heap said: "We are doing a lot of work with alcohol services at the moment to try and get these numbers down. The key message we are getting out to patients is that they do not always need to come to A&E; if they turn up with an injury or illness that is not an emergency, they can be turned away, so there is no point them driving to A&E, paying to park and so on because we can tell them to leave."

The N&N had to cancel 157 operations between January 1 and March 31 because of an increase in A&E demand, and 10 to 15 operations a week are cancelled at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

These both fall under NHS Norfolk; the James Paget Univers-ity Hospital at Gorleston comes under the remit of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney and is discussed at a different committee.