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Future in specialist services heralded at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital annual meeting

PUBLISHED: 21:28 25 September 2017 | UPDATED: 23:12 25 September 2017

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: James Bass.

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: James Bass.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

Philanthropic fundraisers, specialist services and future plans were all discussed at the annual general meeting of Norfolk’s busiest hospital.

Held at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s (NNUH) Benjamin Gooch lecture theatre this evening (Monday), the AGM began by setting the scene of today’s health service.

Hospital chairman John Fry praised NNUH staff and volunteers for their hard work, but said the NHS was facing difficult times.

He said: “All acute hospitals now lose money, that makes it quite difficult for us.”

While chief executive Mark Davies said the hospital employed 7,500 staff and saw around one million patients every year.

He added he was especially proud of the hospital’s specialist services and pointed to improvements in cases of C. difficile (year to date there have been two cases compared to 57 in 2014/15), mortality rates, and the number of patients who stay in hospital for more than two weeks (23pc lower in 2017/18 so far than in 2014/15).

He also praised the hospital’s ward refurbishment programme, which he said was a positive of being under a private finance initiative (PFI). He said: “When the PFI partner hands it back, it will be like new, as if it was built yesterday.”

There were also due to be improvements made in other areas of the hospital, including a £15m interventional radiology/cardiology unit.

The plan was to build a new floor on the hospital’s east wing to house this.

Plus £50m would be put towards a new outpatients and diagnostic centre.

The trust came out of financial special measures in February, which chief finance officer James Norman said was “a real success for the organisation”.

And he said the trust had been judged as being in the top quarter nationally for efficiency.

This was against a backdrop of delivering a £24.9m deficit and £25m worth of savings over the last year.

This year, the hospital aims to make £30m in efficiency savings. Mr Norman added: “It won’t surprise anyone that in the NHS it is a tough financial environment.”

Hospital fundraisers were also recognised for their contribution, with staff and members of the public receiving awards for their donations to the hospital charity.

And an ambitious new vision was set out over how to tackle cancer in the coming years - for more on this, see Tuesday’s EDP.

Exciting plans were mooted for Cromer Hospital, which celebrated its 150th birthday this year.

Consultant surgeon James Hernon said the site was at saturation and was running out of space. But using what they had there were plans to build a new outpatient facility and day unit facility.

Tributes were also paid to Mary Northway, who died last month and was heavily involved in Cromer Hospital.

Before the meeting closed, hospital executives took questions from the floor on waiting times and the PFI contract.

Mr Davies said the hospital was prepared for any attack. And chief operating officer Richard Parker said there were plans in place to get waiting times under control.

There was also concern on how Brexit had affected the trust, and Mr Fry admitted recruiting EU staff had become more difficult.

Sue Vaughan, from the Norfolk NHS Action Group, also raised worries over whether the hospital was going to take on more private patients due to budgets being cut.

But Mr Fry said that was not in their plan. Mr Davies added: “There future here will be about the development of our specialist services, our tertiary care. I can only see that growing.”

Closing the meeting, High Sheriff of Norfolk James Bagge praised the hospital, its staff, and volunteers for their work, and encouraged successes to be celebrated.


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