Number of coronavirus patients at N&N rises by 50pc in three days

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was looking after 45 patients with coronavirus as of the

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was looking after 45 patients with coronavirus as of the evening of Monday March 30 2020. Photo: Archant - Credit: PA

The number of confirmed patients with coronavirus at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital (NNUH) has increased by 50pc in three days.

The hospital is now treating 45 people who have been diagnosed with Covid-19, with another 57 patients waiting in hospital for results, as of Monday evening.

On Friday, there were 30 confirmed cases being cared for at the hospital. Five of the patients are in the critical care unit.

The hospital told staff on Monday that the number of patients in critical care would rise as the infection rate grew, but they said they had enough beds at the moment.

“We’re in the fortunate position that we can manage the current patient numbers,” they said.

The NNUH’s critical care complex normally has 20 beds, while the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn has increased its critical beds from 13 to 23 to cope with the most severe coronavirus cases. It is treating 33 patients for the virus.

Figures published in January by NHS England showed just 14 of Norfolk’s 45 critical care beds were free. There were five unoccupied at the NNUH, five at the Queen Elizabeth and four at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston.

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But since then beds have been freed up. Last week NHS England said it would increase the number of critical care beds by 40,000.

Of those, 15,000 would come by stopping all non-emergency operations, 15,000 more by moving older people out of hospitals and into social care and 10,000 bought in from the private sector.

Hospitals also need more ventilators for patients with respiratory problems and the East of England Ambulance Service confirmed on Tuesday it was giving 350 ventilators in its vehicles to hospitals.

“Critical equipment needs to go to priority areas where it can be best used, with the whole of the NHS working together in the best interest of patients,” an ambulance spokesman said.

The NNUH has also told staff that it is buying enough protective personal equipment (PPE), such as masks, to keep them safe.

Getting protective equipment has been one of the most controversial aspects of the country’s response to the pandemic.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said on Tuesday that the health of doctors and patients was still being put at risk because of “life-threatening shortages”.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) also said shortages were “unacceptable”. On Monday, the Royal College of Physicians said one in four doctors was either off work sick or in isolation.

The NNUH told staff last week: “Our priority is to keep you safe and we will continue to try to source enough supplies to ensure you are properly protected.”

As of Monday, there were 133 confirmed cases in Norfolk and 100 in Suffolk.

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