Bigger A&E and new 'outpatients' village' key as hospital aims to meet rising patient demand

Artist impression of how the James Paget Hospital would look after its expansion is complete. The ne

Artist impression of how the James Paget Hospital would look after its expansion is complete. The new outpatient village can be seen in the top right corner of the main building. - Credit: Archant

A hospital trust that last month experienced a record-high number of people coming to A&E has announced plans to expand its facilities to meet future demand.

Bosses at James Paget Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (JPH) want to increase the size of James Paget Hospital's A&E in Gorleston by moving outpatient services onto a new site next to the existing buildings.

Christine Allen, chief executive of JPH, said the plans were necessary to move the trust forward.

It is hoped the A&E could be redesigned by 2020.

As reported in yesterday's EDP a record 7,262 people visited the hospital's A&E department between July 1-29, while the number of arriving ambulances carrying patients rose by 13pc compared to July 2015.

The growth, which JPH's chiefs say is not caused by one specific issue, means the hospital must expand rapidly.

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Ms Allen said: "Our A&E was designed for 120 patients per day when the hospital was built in 1982, and we're now seeing around 220 patients per day.

"We need to expand it sooner rather than later."

Under the plans the trust would build a new 'outpatients' village' which would house as many services as possible under one roof.

Outpatient services are currently provided from 15 separate areas of the main hospital building, some of which are far from the main car parks.

The chiefs want to bring these services together in the village - which would then free up space for bigger adult and children's A&E services, a new A&E reception, and a 24-hour GP surgery to support A&E.

Ms Allen said the trust needs to draw up a business case for the outpatients' village, but the trust hopes the facility will be in place by 2020.

Included in the plans are the upgrading of 23 inpatient wards and make them more dementia friendly, and moving the two remaining services at Lowestoft Hospital away from the site so it can be redeveloped for use as sheltered housing, a care home, residential homes, or a combination of all three.

The full cost of the project has not yet been confirmed.

She admitted the current financial pressures within the NHS posed a risk to the project, but added the trust would seek commercial partners.

"This hospital is at the heart of the community, it's a big local employer, and it's our job to plan for the future," Ms Allen said. Meanwhile planning is already underway for how the hospital will cope with additional pressures expected next winter.

Sue Watkinson, director of operations at JPH, said the plans including improving the separation of patients with major and minor injuries.

Ms Allen said she was "worried" about the knock-on effect caused by the closure of Greyfriars Walk-in Centre, which has been announced by Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group.

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