N&N reopens two hospital wards but discharge unit closes today despite protests
- Credit: PA
Two wards have reopened and a third will follow suit next month, according to chiefs at the region's biggest hospital.
In August the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital N&N closed three wards - equating to 68 beds - temporarily in a bid to drive down money spent on agency staff.
The decision sparked protests by campaign group Keep our NHS Public, who feared the closures would be permanent, but the N&N last night said Edgefield and Holt wards had reopened.
Cringleford Ward, which was supposed to have been reopened this month, is now set to do so in November.
The N&N did not say why its opening was delayed.
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Cringleford, which used to be a ward for patients being treated privately and under-18s, will become a 'dedicated day facility' a spokesman said.
And the hospital confirmed the ward will remain open at night-time as well.
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It comes as 86 newly-qualified nurses from University of East Anglia start working at the hospital, though it was originally hoped 100 would be recruited.
A spokesman for the N&N said: 'Three wards were closed temporarily in August - taking advantage of a seasonal low in patients needing medical care with the plan to reopen in the autumn.
'Two wards have reopened and this has been possible because we have boosted our nursing staff numbers with newly trained nurses from the UEA.'
The N&N were not able to provide figures showing what the impact of the temporary closures had been on agency staff expenditure, but the spokesman said this would be published next month.
Sue Vaughan, a member of the Norfolk branch of Keep our NHS Public, said: 'I'm very pleased to hear that the wards are reopening.'
Henderson Unit closes
Meanwhile the Henderson Unit, situated at Julian Hospital, on Bowthorpe Road, Norwich, a place where patients were sent if they were medically fit for discharge from the N&N but were not yet ready to start living independently again, has closed.
It comes despite a protest was held last weekend over the decision to close the unit, made by the N&N in a bid to save £1m per year. Staff at the unit have taken up other jobs at the hospital.
Sue Vaughan, of Keep our NHS Public, said: 'The N&N is often on red or black alert because beds are occupied by patients who can't go home until a care package is in place - and this closure will exarcebate that.'
MPs Clive Lewis (Labour) and Richard Bacon (Conservative) both spoke out against the closure.
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