Boss of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn insists it is in ‘good position’ to meet winter challenges
- Credit: Ian Burt
West Norfolk's main hospital is in a good position to cope with the challenges ahead this winter.
That's the message from its chief executive as officials plan for the expected surge in admissions in January and February.
It comes days after Jon Green told a meeting of the hospital's management board it had been under pressure all summer, after an unexpected spike in admissions.
Mr Green said the hospital had been failing to meet its A&E targets, while so-called escalation beds which are only normally used during winter peaks in demand had been occupied throughout the summer, causing staffing issues.
The hospital is now seeing 93.5pc of patients either seen, treated and admitted or discharged within four hours. The target it is expected to meet is 95pc.
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'The NHS is in a challenging place at the moment and we're no different from that here,' he said. 'But we've got some good building blocks, we're in a good position going into the winter.'
Mr Green said the escalation ward had not been needed for a number of weeks.
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He added the hospital was trying to improve its recruitment procedures to boost staffing levels and reduce the £1.5m it spends a month on agency nurses and doctors.
'We have an 11pc vacancy rate, which is too high, so we're looking at how we're recruiting and investing in our recruitment services,' he said.
Recruitment days are now being held, where potential staff can go from interview to job offer within a day. Seven new nurses and 11 care assistants had joined the QEH at a recent recruitment day.
Mr Green said ahead of the coming winter, managers had been looking at the flow of patients through the hospital and how health and social care services could work more closely together.
Demand is expected to peak in the first two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February.
Mr Green said the QEH was taking part in the NHS Red to Green campaign, which aims to speed up treatment and reduce the time that patients spend in hospital.
'We need to make sure our systems and procedures are as strong and as sound as they can be so we're not delaying patients unnecessarily,' he said.