New unit will take pressure off Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital at Colney. Picture: James Bass Copy: Rebecca Gough For: EN N

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital at Colney. Picture: James Bass Copy: Rebecca Gough For: EN News Evening News © 2009 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Evening News © 2009

A plan to build a new medical centre at Norfolk's largest hospital to ease pressures at the already-stretched site has been announced.

Managers at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have revealed plans for a significant facility at the trust's premises.

The new unit would house several services moved out of the main building to free up space to allow A&E to expand and ensure more patients are treated more quickly.

The hospital has struggled with capacity following a rise in demand for NHS services, which has caused the trust to miss vital patient waiting time targets.

In December 85pc of people at the N&N's A&E waited four hours or less to be treated, against the national target of 95pc.

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It is a problem echoed across the country as figures published yesterday revealed the number of people presenting at A&E departments in England jumped by 20,000 last week to nearly 340,000 – well above the average for winter.

Mark Davies, chief executive of the trust, said: 'We need more capacity and we want to provide a faster response to patients. These are key priorities.'

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Improving patient waiting time for treatment is hugely important for the trust, which has missed its 18-week referral-to-treatment target since September 2014.

Failure to hit that target, along with others such as A&E and cancer waiting times, can incur fines from clinical commissioning groups, who pay the hospital for the care it provides.

At its board meeting yesterday the trust was told it had missed the four-hour A&E target and 62-day cancer target from GP referral to treatment in December.

However the trust has begun hitting another key cancer target, the 31-day wait for treatment following decision to treat.

The trust will draw up a business case for its expansion plan, which is expected to be discussed by its board in May. Mr Davies said the project could be completed within two years.

Meanwhile the trust has raised its planned deficit for 2015/16 from £9.5m to £14.4m.

A drop in clinical income and rise in temporary staff were cited among financial challenges ahead.

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