Community health boss on “new normal” and pressures to come post coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 06:30 21 May 2020 | UPDATED: 06:30 21 May 2020

Paul Cracknell, deputy chief executive of the NCH&C. Picture: NCH&C

Paul Cracknell, deputy chief executive of the NCH&C. Picture: NCH&C


An executive of Norfolk’s health and care trust says he is bracing for pressure on community services as it looks at ways to return to “normal” post coronavirus.

Paul Cracknell, deputy chief executive of the Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust (NCH&C), explained that increased demand for their services were expected as patients currently being treated for coronavirus in the county’s main hospitals would eventually be discharged into the care of the trust, for services such as nursing and rehabilitation.

In addition, extra pressure would be caused by hospital’s restarting operations and an increase in several other services as normality returns.

Mr Cracknell said; “We are on a slightly delayed time frame to other parts of the service.

“The acute services, where possible, start to increase their activity and that will have a knock on impact if they start having more operations. We know people will need to be coming into our care to recover from them. That’s an additional activity than we currently do, but we are mindful of all those different pressures coming in.”

The trust says it will look at prioritising services supporting vulnerable people, as well as building on remote working, consultations and clinics.

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Mr Cracknell added: “For us the new normal is about how do we help people work flexibly from home or different places, whatever their job is, and where possible how can we use technology to help social distancing?”

Looking back at the trust’s work during the pandemic, he said there were three ways it had adapted, from working with people that had a positive covid diagnosis or at risk, changes in managing its services to protect staff and patients and looking at how it could deliver care safely.

Staff also took on managing the discharge of patients to create space at the county’s main hospitals as well as provide a range of care in the community.

Inpatient bed capacity was also increased from 213 to 249, with space for a further 46 beds if required.

At its peak, staff absences rose to nearly 8pc but has fallen back to the average for the time of year (3.7pc).

Mr Cracknell said: “At the early stages we were unsure how many people would be infected and unsure how many people would need that intensive acute care.

“There has been a real focus on helping patients get the care they need in an acute hospital, get out of acute hospital and home to their place of residence as quickly as possible and with the appropriate safeguards.”

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