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Hospital staff told to make 'least unsafe decisions' due to overcrowding

PUBLISHED: 17:05 20 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:06 20 December 2019

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. NNUH

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. NNUH

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Norfolk's largest hospital has told staff to make the "least unsafe decision" following a huge rise in admissions.

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital sent a "hastily worded email" to doctors after reporting a "major internal incident" due to a full accident and emergency department on Tuesday.

A document sent to staff said the hospital was "so overcrowded" it was unable to find beds for patients.

The message to staff said: "We would like you to know that the trust will support you in making difficult decisions that may be the least unsafe decision, and we would appreciate your co-operation over the coming days with this."

"We are facing our most challenging situation with our trust today, because it was so overcrowded and unable to find a bed for the 35 patients doctors had decided needed to be admitted as emergencies."

The hospital has previously warned services were being pushed to "unrecoverable positions" following increasingly long waiting lists.

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At its November board meeting, the hospital trust said more than 46,000 people were waiting for treatment - up 9pc on last year.

The hospital was forced to cancel "non-urgent operations" in a bid to save money as it was running nearly £20m in the red with five months still to go.

In September, the hospital had the worst waiting times in the country at hitting A&E targets.

A NNUH hospital spokesman said: "The hospital was under extreme pressure earlier this week with very high Emergency Department attendances and a rise in admissions.

"A hastily worded email was sent to NNUH doctors on Tuesday, which had a number of actions to help address the challenges we were facing.

"The trust is resolute in its determination to provide timely, safe, high quality care to all our patients and our staff are diligently working to ensure this happens."

The hospital said it was "more important than ever" for the public to get flu vaccinations and following advice if they have norovirus.

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