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Norfolk hospital to create region’s first coronavirus surge centre

PUBLISHED: 17:20 17 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:20 17 April 2020

A Norfolk hospital will have more than 200 extra beds for patients from across the East of England as part of the NHS’s battle against the coronavirus outbreak. Pictured, plans for the hospital's new isolation ward. Photo: NNUH

A Norfolk hospital will have more than 200 extra beds for patients from across the East of England as part of the NHS’s battle against the coronavirus outbreak. Pictured, plans for the hospital's new isolation ward. Photo: NNUH

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A Norfolk hospital will have more than 200 extra beds for patients from across the East of England as part of the NHS’s battle against the coronavirus outbreak.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) has made a regional surge centre and will offer care to the sickest Covid-19 patients from across the region.

The hospital also plans to create a new isolation ward in its ground in order to expand critical care capacity and free up bed spaces for incoming patients.

The NNUH normally has 36 beds equipped with ventilators for critically ill patients and plans to open a further 60 to meet demand sparked by the virus outbreak.

And in its role as the regions’s first surge centre, the hospital will make 170 further beds available.

READ MORE: Eleven more coronavirus deaths confirmed in Norfolk’s hospitals

Sam Higginson, NNUH chief executive, said: “The regional surge centre based at our hospital will play a crucial role in the East of England’s response to coronavirus, and is ready to take patients if needed from across the region. However, our ambition has to be to continue to stay at home to cut infections and save lives - so that the need to actually use this facility is as limited as possible.”

The hospital has already opened a second emergency department earlier this month which, alongside the new isolation unit, will free up space for the regional surge centre within the existing hospital, as well as continuing to care for patients in need of urgent or emergency treatment

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Ann Radmore, NHS East of England director, said: “As the NHS faces the greatest health challenge in its history, we’re supporting patients and staff with additional capacity in the region.

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“This regional surge centre will provide backup and support for NHS hospitals and will ensure patients needing specialist care can get the support they need.”

Existing NHS staff, deployed as needed from across the region, and returning and training clinicians will staff the centre.

Plans for a second regional surge centre elsewhere in the East of England are being developed.

Plans for the new isolation ward were submitted to South Norfolk Council on Friday, April 10, with “vital” construction to take 10 days “in the current pandemic”.

The application is for a three-year temporary planning approval for a new modular building, to serve as an isolation ward, next to the outpatients block.

The ward is “to aid in treatment of Covid-19 at the NNUH” and will have nine isolation/ICU rooms.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Norfolk’s police chief urges public to keep staying at home


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