Call for new building at hospital as winter plans are put in place
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A call has been made to build a new permanent block at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) as it was admitted the building was too small to cope with modern demands.
Plans revealed to hospital directors today (Friday) detailed how a temporary modular ward would be added to the site, as part of a package to deal with winter pressures.
Other measures included using non-clinical space as escalation wards, to be used when beds were full, and a discharge lounge in the temporary structure, to free up beds.
But trust chairman John Fry asked why bosses were not looking to build a permanent structure instead.
He said: 'I've just counted two wards [available for escalation], a temporary shed - sorry a modular ward - and a decant space. A block has in it three or fours wards so why are we not considering a permanent facility which would be better or cheaper in the long run?'
Chief finance officer John Hennessey said the hospital needed a discharge lounge, and Professor Nancy Fontaine, who starts as chief nurse at the trust next month added: 'I could not agree more.'
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And there were concerns around the placement of the temporary ward, which would be on the hospital's plaza and have an entrance through the Pod coffee shop, near the entrance to east outpatients.
Non-executive director Sally Smith said: 'The last thing we want is to send out a message of chaos.
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And Richard Parker, chief operating officer, admitted the location was not his first choice.
He said his first idea 'was it should be at the back bolted on to the other blocks but that cannot be done'.
Chief executive Mark Davies said: 'Going back we're doing this, it is because for substantial parts of last winter we did not have facilities to treat patients arriving at our front door. But this hospital ain't big enough and we owe that responsibility to patients to make it safe.
'It may not be pretty but it needs to be safe. This is the best we've found and I think this is a good plan.'
Mr Davies added how it was important to get plans in place quickly, as winter demands began in October, and he said decisions would be made in the next week.