Hospital gets underway with plans to double size of Norwich’s A&E

The N&N has set up a temporary urgent care centre to deal with demand over the last two winters. Pho

The N&N has set up a temporary urgent care centre to deal with demand over the last two winters. Photo: Bill Smith

Health chiefs want to double the size of the biggest accident and emergency department in our area.

A&E capacity at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) will double inside a temporary building this summer, while work will start to extend its permanent home.

The hospital said precise details of the new A&E were yet to be determined, but described it as a 'major expansion plan'.

The N&N has consistently struggled to meet A&E targets and is being investigated by health watchdog Monitor over missed waiting time targets.

For the week ending January 18, 84% of patients were seen at the hospital's A&E within four hours. The target is 95% of patients.

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That meant 75 patients waited for more than four hours in the week.

A major cause of the missed targets is the lack of emergency capacity.

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The hospital was designed to deal with 60,000 A&E attendances a year and demand has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

In 2013, 90,000 patients attended A&E.

Chris Cobb, director of medicine and emergency services said: 'The expansion has been carefully planned as part of a range of measures to meet increased demand for emergency care.

'Increasing the size and altering the configuration of the unit will help us to deal with attendance numbers, the needs for specialist care and future needs for the years ahead when combined with other initiatives which support patients in their own homes.'

N&N chief executive Anna Dugdale made expanding A&E a priority last year.

The new temporary building will be in place for as long as it takes to expand the existing A&E.

The first stage of the plans have been approved by South Norfolk Council and will see emergency care units moved into the hospital's physiotherapy departments.

Councillors approved the first stage of plans late last year for a temporary urgent care unit and accident and emergency minors unit.

The major planing applications for A&E expansion are yet to be submitted and designs are still at an early stage.

The expansion is set to begin later this year following the opening of the temporary A&E. It is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete.

It will mean that next winter patients will be treated in the temporary location, which is to the west of the main hospital entrance.

The new temporary unit will need a separate entrance and bays for ambulances.

Calls have also been made to increase the A&E service at Cromer to cope with the rising demand.

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