Accident and Emergency expansion takes shape at King’s Lynn hospital
- Credit: IAN BURT
A long-awaited £2m expansion to a hospital's busy accident and emergency (A&E) department has finally started to take shape.
A crane was brought into the King's Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) to help lift into place several steel frames which will form a two-storey modular extension in the courtyard beside the department.
Managers at the Gayton Road hospital have long wanted to increase the amount of treatment space in what they say is currently a 'cosy' A&E set-up.
In line with other A&E departments nationwide, doctors want to provide observational areas where they monitor patients for slightly longer without having to admit them into the main hospital.
Interim chief operating officer Andrew Stenton said the expansion, due to be completed in March and up-and-running by the middle of that month, would have huge benefits for both patients and staff.
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'When you are a patient who is new on a ward, you gain an expectation that you are going to be staying in hospital - whereas if you're in A&E, the expectation of going home is far greater,' Mr Stenton said.
'It has the advantage of not raising expectations that patients will stay in hospital and means we are not having to move the patient through the corridors, which takes manpower to do.
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'It also means we can use that bed for a patient that is going to be here longer term.'
He added that the expanded A&E would be a 'relief to the department as a whole'.
The hospital, put in 'special measures' in October after regulators identified a series of failings, has failed to meet the A&E waiting time target for the past year.
Despite a busier than expected winter the QEH is now closer to the target, with 94.6pc of patients now seen within four hours. The target is 95pc.
Mr Stenton added that the hospital used to have an observational space but that it was closed urgently a year ago, because staff did not feel it gave patients enough privacy.
The expansion is costing just over £2m, with £1.6m coming from the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to help deal with winter pressures. The rest is coming from the hospital itself.
'It's a good investment in that it will improve the flow through the hospital and the patient experience,' Mr Stenton said.
How do you think the QEH is doing? Write, giving your full contact details, to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk