'It's like a war zone' - Staff describe 'horrendous' hospital conditions as Covid admissions rise

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: Nick Butcher

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Further critical care beds are being created at a Norfolk hospital as part of its coronavirus response.

Health bosses at the Norfolk and Norwich, James Paget and Queen Elizabeth hospitals, have warned of rising Covid-19 admissions and pressure on services as cases and admissions continue to rise.

Frontline staff have said the sheer number of patients admitted to hospital has become "horrendous" and urged people to take the guidance more seriously.

One NHS worker said: "It's just horrendous, it's like a war zone. We're all anxious. People have to know and be more aware and take it more seriously. Staff are in tears.

"It is the sheer number [of patients]."

Another frontline worker said: "You go to work everyday in the unknown." 

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is treating more than 200 patients for coronavirus and is increasing its intensive care capacity further.

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A spokesman said: "Intensive care capacity at NNUH is usually around 20 beds. However, this has doubled over the last week and there are plans to increase critical care capacity again to 80 beds as part of our response to Covid-19 across the Critical Care Complex and other surge wards."

On Wednesday, Erika Denton, medical director for NNUH, said the vast majority of operations had been cancelled, adding there was not the staff or space in the hospital.

The latest figures for bed capacity up until December 29, showed there had been more than 150 coronavirus patients at the QEH, and 50 at the James Paget, with bed capacity over 94pc.

Questions around the ongoing contingency plans around capacity have been asked to all three trusts.

The impact on staff's mental and physical wellbeing has been raised by the Royal College of Nursing and UNISON.

Theresa Budrey, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing Eastern region, said: "The national picture is the picture here, we are under immense pressure in our health care services in the eastern region."

UNISON Eastern head of health Sasha Savage added: “Health staff have been battered by wave after wave of this pandemic.

“They’ve put their physical and mental health on the line for us, risking their lives, because they know no-one else will ride to the rescue.

“Norfolk’s hospitals were straining at the seams before coronavirus, after a decade of underfunding and understaffing. They won’t be able to take much more."

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