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Region’s busiest A&E department receives £2.5m boost to ease growing demand

PUBLISHED: 06:30 26 July 2014 | UPDATED: 17:23 31 July 2014

The A&E department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise Bradley

The A&E department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

Hospital bosses pledged to increase capacity by the end of the year after receiving a £2.5m investment to ease growing demand at the region’s busiest Accident and Emergency department.

Hospital CQC ratings

Two Norfolk hospitals have been given the highest possible rating following the publication of the health watchdog’s latest performance reports.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) analysed the performance of 161 acute hospitals across the country using 150 indicators and ranked them between one and six, with those at most risk with the lowest score.

Updated analysis has placed the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and James Paget University Hospital in band six.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, which is in special measures, is not given a rating because it has recently been inspected.

The JPH has just one risk identified, whilst the N&N has no risks, according to the intelligent monitoring.

Anna Dugdale, chief executive of the N&N, said: “There are no other organisations in the East of England with zero risks.

“It is nice to see that the Norfolk and Norwich is the highest performing organisation in the East of England for the acute sector, which is really nice to see.”

The QEH has four elevated risks and seven risks, according to the latest reports

Directors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said they had experienced unprecedented increase in emergency admissions and attendances over the last three months, which had resulted in the NHS trust missing its four hour A&E target in June.

Officials said that a range of community measures to treat and support more vulnerable patients in their homes had so far failed to stem the tide of people flocking to A&E at the Colney site. A meeting of the trust board yesterday heard that there was a target by commissioners to reduce A&E attendances by 2pc this year. However, demand was more than 8pc planned for the first quarter of the 2014/15 financial year.

Directors added that there was light on the horizon for the under pressure department after local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) approved a £2.5m investment in an urgent care unit to be created at the N&N following a successful three month trial at the start of the year. More than 2,000 patients were treated at the temporary unit by GPs and community health staff between January and April to help ease winter pressures.

The hospital is relocating its occupational therapy and physiotherapy services to create room for the urgent care unit by October, which has funding for at least two years.

Anna Dugdale, chief executive, said pressures on GP services may be partly responsible for a rise in people with minor ailments heading to Colney. She added that there was a potential staffing problem coming up at the end of August with less than 5 out of 11 A&E vacancies currently unfilled.

“It is becoming increasingly urgent that some of the out of hospital initiatives by the community trust and others deliver in keeping people away. There were 366 A&E attendances last Sunday and we have never had that before,” she said.

All acute hospitals have a target of seeing, treating, admitting or discharging 95pc of patients that come to A&E in under four hours. The N&N’s A&E performance in June was 92.8pc.

Have you got a health story? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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