'We've never experienced difficulty like this' - Hospital directors speak on winter pressures
PUBLISHED: 11:04 20 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:49 20 February 2018
Hospital directors have described how they "never experienced difficulty" like that they faced over Christmas and New Year and felt "helplessness" over the demand.
Directors at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH), in Gorleston, spoke out at the trust’s most recent board of directors meeting as they discussed the immense pressure faced by the region’s NHS.
Minutes from the meeting held last month showed finance director Mark Flynn, medical director Nick Oligbo, and nursing director Julia Hunt describe the period.
Documents showed Mr Flynn, who was the executive on call on December 30, said it was “the most difficult on call he had ever experienced” as ambulances were “arriving consistently” and the trust supported other hospitals under what is known as load levelling.
Rolled out last year, the scheme means patients can be taken to an A&E away from the closest hospital if it is experiencing a surge in demand.
Some patients arriving at JPUH came from Ipswich, board papers showed.
Mr Oligbo said he had been on call for the labour ward for 30 years and “never experienced difficulty like this”.
And Mrs Hunt said it was the worst Christmas she had experienced in 30 years of nursing.
She said although she had spent more time at the hospital over Christmas than with her family she felt “this was necessary as it was still nowhere near the sacrifice that the staff working had made”.
All directors praised the hospital’s staff for coping under the demand.
Mrs Hunt said a lot of staff were “unwell with heavy colds and were tired and exhausted” and she had spoken with every member of staff on duty as she walked around wards.
She added she had “made decisions that [she] has never previously had to make” and acknowledged care had been compromised due to limited resources.
Graham Wilde, chief operating officer, was on call on December 28 and said he felt “helplessness” at not being able to physically help in A&E.
The hospital’s chief executive Christine Allen reminded the board that the level of demand would impact on targets, but said if there was a “silver lining” it was that the trust had worked better with other providers.