Chief executive unveils five year £20m N&N investment plan

A £20m investment plan has been unveiled at Norfolk's biggest hospital, which includes a vision to expand its Accident and Emergency department and operating theatre capacity to help meet demand.

The chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital last night said that the county's growing older population and financial constraints posed the biggest pressures on the NHS trust over the next five years. However, the management of the Colney hospital are planning five key capital investment priorities, worth around £20m in total, by 2019.

Expansion of the N&N's emergency operations is one of the hospital's top priorities in its new five year plan, said Anna Dugdale.

When the hospital's A&E opened in 2001, staff dealt with less than 60,000 emergency and minor injury cases a year. Last year, more than 90,000 patients went through the front doors of A&E.

Mrs Dugdale said the creation of a temporary urgent care centre had helped reduce the number of A&E admissions over the last two months. However, the hospital needed expansion to cope with a 5pc year-on-year increase in emergency cases.

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'That [A&E] is a particular area we want to expand. GPs are struggling to keep up with demand and I think we will see in the future patients increasingly coming to us as the first port of call for urgent care,' she said.

Other investment priorities, unveiled at a public meeting last night, included a new electronic prescribing scheme in partnership with the James Paget University Hospital, operating theatre expansion, and expansion of a chemotherapy day unit to help deliver 'world class services' for local patients.

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Mrs Dugdale added that the hospital was able to expand services by making better use of space.

'What we are trying to do with the strategy is to make sure that what needs to be in the hospital building is in the hospital building. In September, we are moving all of our post-graduate education out of the hospital building to a new research building. We want to put clinical things into the hospital by moving teaching out,' she said.

The chief executive added that the number of people over the age of 85 in Norfolk was set to increase by more than 30pc by 2021, which would put added pressure on hospital services. The new £4.5m radiotherapy unit is set to open at the N&N next month to help meet demand.

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