Ambulances queued outside NNUH as hospital faced 'unprecedented' A&E demand
PUBLISHED: 16:31 07 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:38 09 January 2019
At least 14 ambulances were forced to queue up outside Norfolk's largest hospital during one of its busiest ever days at A&E.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) said more than 420 patients attended the emergency department on Sunday, including 164 who arrived by ambulance.
Hospital chief executive Mark Davies said the number was “unprecedented” for that particular day.
It comes as a photograph shows 14 ambulances queued outside the hospital on Sunday, with another two said to be waiting in the resuscitation bays.
A source claimed some ambulances were having to wait about three hours to offload patients.
Over the past 10 days the NNUH has faced an average of almost 150 ambulance arrivals every day, making it the busiest hospital in the east of England.
Mr Davies said: “Our staff continue to deliver great care and everyone at the hospital is focused on overcoming this challenge, including opening appropriate escalation areas across the hospital.
“We appreciate the understanding of our patients during this very busy period.
“We are always striving to do better and to be innovative and to provide the best possible care for our patients.”
Last week we reported how 14pc (560) of patients had to wait an hour to be transferred from an ambulance into A&E between December 3 and December 30 last year.
The aim is for patients to be transferred from an ambulance within 15 minutes.
Mr Davies said he expects the hospital to remain busy over the coming days.
Patients who require assistance for minor illnesses or injuries are urged to use pharmacies, GPs, 111 or the walk-in centre at Rouen Road in Norwich. There is also a minor injuries unit at Cromer Hospital.
To cope with increased demand over winter NNUH has put in place 57 extra beds, eight new rapid assessment and treatment cubicles, and expanded the opening hours of its older people’s emergency department.
It also has a dedicated winter room with a senior director, doctor, nurse and a senior manager from the ambulance service.
NNUH at Home will be launched this week to support some patients with care at home with bespoke services such as therapy and nursing care.
East of England Ambulance NHS Trust chief executive Dorothy Hosein said: “Our aim is always to keep patients safe.
“We have robust winter plans in place allowing for additional capacity to deliver care to our patients.
“In addition, our senior managers are working with the hospitals to speed up safe handovers and to find other appropriate places for patients to receive care.
“Sunday was a busy day and we want to thank our staff and volunteers for all their hard work.
“We continue to work very closely with our partners within the wider NHS system to ensure that patients are treated as quickly as possible.
“When hospitals experience peaks in admissions, this can mean our ambulances will have longer distances to travel to reach patients.”