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Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn sees spike in demand

PUBLISHED: 14:25 26 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:25 26 September 2017

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

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A Norfolk hospital has seen an unexpected spike in the number of patients over the last six months.

Jon Green, chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, told senior managers demand on its services had remained high all summer.

“We have continued to experience very high numbers of patients needing to be admitted to our wards for care and treatment,” he said in a report to the hospital’s board of directors.

“Our escalation beds, which we do not normally expect to need to use until winter, have been open for most of the year and this has put additional pressure on an already stretched workforce.”

Mr Green told the meeting: “We have been under a greater degree of pressure than we would have anticipated in the intervening months since May.”

Some 635 patients were treated in Leverington Ward, the hospital’s 31-bed escalation unit, between April and September 2016. Between March and August, 2017, it treated 939.

Mr Green said an “internal incident” had been declared by the QEH after a “surge of activity” on September 5. When demand spikes, the calls extra staff in to work.

Mr Green said the incident had taught him two things. He added: “The standard and quality of our staff and their ability to react is good.

“The procedures we need to go into that greater level of escalation are there and the procedures are good.”

Mr Green said work was under way preparing for this winter’s anticipated spike in admissions.

“I think we’re in a good position,” he said. “The plans we have in place are more robust than previous years’.

Waiting times at the hospital’s A&E department failed to meet the target of 95pc of patients being seen within four hours in June, July and August, the board was told.

One of the hospital’s key priorities is to increase the numbers of full-time nurses to reduce the amount it has to spend on agency staff.

But a report by HR director Karen Charman said that 11pc of posts were still vacant and agency spend has increased for the last three months, exceeding £1.2m in July and August.

Last winter, the £1.8m a month bill for employing agency nurses led to the QEH ending the year £18m over budget.

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