Could home care take the pressure off Norfolk’s hospitals?
More people suffering from flu and other winter-related problems could be cared for in the community, say health chiefs in King's Lynn.
The disclosure came as Norfolk's hospitals declared states of alert after a flood of new admissions.
King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital was on red alert last night – meaning it was short of beds but had a few available – after a temporary ward was opened to ease the pressure. The 27-bed Tilney Ward is being run by the QEH and the Norfolk Community Health Care NHS Trust.
'Being able to use Tilney Ward as a flexible resource in this way means we have much more room to manoeuvre,' said Maggie Carter, project lead for the QEH and NHS Norfolk.
Sheila Adams-O'Shea, chief executive of Norfolk Community Health and Care, said: 'This partnership working will ensure that we offer excellent care to patients as quickly as possible while freeing up the acute beds so they are available for other patients who may be in need of urgent care.'
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Clinicians say the care being offered on Tilney could be provided in patients' homes.
Ward manager Kerry Jones said the integrated working of commnunity staff, GPs and the hospital was crucial.
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'Things like IV therapy (administering drugs or fluids intravenously) can be done at home with a community team,' she said.
'By working together with all the teams we can provide this within the community.'
From April 1, some services will be transferred into the community to reduce hospital admissions and provide so-called patient-centred care. Health chiefs believe closer links between GPs, community teams and hospitals should cut admissions and costs.
'Let's use an acute hospital for what it's designed for,' said medical director Dr Geoff Hunnam. 'If you add more wards then they will be filled, but that may not be what's best for patients.'
The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston was yesterday again on black alert, and non-emergency operations had to be cancelled. The hospital urged people to consider other options and not go to A&E unnecesarily.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was also on red alert.
The West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, which does not use the alert system, was experiencing high numbers of patients. Two wards, G4 and G5, are closed to new admissions after nine patients in total showed symptoms of the contagious vomiting bug norovirus. The wards are still open to visitors.