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Country’s first A&E specifically for the elderly fails to fully launch on time

PUBLISHED: 09:44 20 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:22 20 December 2017

Accident and Emergency at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: Bill Smith

Accident and Emergency at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: Bill Smith

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An emergency department hailed as the first in the country specifically for older people has failed to fully open on time.

Accident and Emergency at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: Denise BradleyAccident and Emergency at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: Denise Bradley

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) announced innovative plans last month to launch an accident and emergency department (A&E) dedicated to those over 80.

At the time, it was claimed patients aged over 80 would go straight to the older person’s emergency department (OPED) from the end of November, where they would be greeted by a multidisciplinary team.

Hospital chief executive Mark Davies heralded the scheme as a “massive step forward in enhancing emergency care”.

But nearly three weeks into December the first patients were only seen on Monday, and just parts of the service are up and running.

Mark Davies, the new chief executive of the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Photo: NNUHMark Davies, the new chief executive of the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Photo: NNUH

An NNUH spokesman said: “Elements of the service are now open and we are seeing our first patients.

“We are opening the service as a staggered approach and we are looking forward to officially opening the service in January when all elements of the service are in place.”

It is understood recruiting staff for the project - which uses space in the existing A&E - has been a challenge.

Whilst some roles had been filled the hospital was still recruiting for others.

An artist impression of the new entrance to A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: NNUHAn artist impression of the new entrance to A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: NNUH

However an NNUH spokesman said they received a “positive response”.

They added: “We are recruiting for all types of clinical staff from emergency or older people’s medicine backgrounds as well as allied health professionals and pharmacists.

“We are also looking to develop and recruit new and innovative roles such as older people’s medicine nurses with a special interest in emergency medicine.”

Around 50 patients aged 80 and over visit the hospital’s A&E every day and it was hoped the OPED would cater for all of them.

An artist impression of the new entrance to A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: NNUHAn artist impression of the new entrance to A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Photo: NNUH

At the same time the OPED was revealed, the hospital also announced it would be relocating the paediatric ED and tripling its size, with bed space increasing from three to nine by Christmas.

The hospital has also applied for planning permission to extend the main A&E. If approved, a new entrance area will be built in the same place as the existing entrance, with a new area for assessment bays and a corridor linking to the injuries unit.

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