Coronavirus admissions spark 'challenging' bank holiday at hospitals

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, James Paget Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Pict

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, James Paget Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Picture: Brittany Woodman/Sonya Duncan - Credit: Brittany Woodman/Sonya Duncan

Hospital staff faced a challenging bank holiday as Covid-19 admissions continue to put "extreme pressure" on services, with the number of admissions reaching 200 at Norfolk's largest hospital.

Bed capacity at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, and James Paget University, in Gorleston, reached more than 92pc as of December 29, according to the latest NHS figures. 

The majority of beds were for non-Covid reasons, but all the trusts have shown a rise in admissions of Covid-19 patients, prompting hospital bosses to urge communities to keep to current guidelines.

The Norfolk and Norwich, which is also the regional surge centre, has opened up more critical care space and is currently treating 200 people for the virus.

Covid cases are now double the peak of the first wave and the hospital has also reduced the amount of elective work to have capacity and redeploy staff to treat Covid patients.


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The latest NHS figures, which show cases in individual trusts up until December 29, showed 92.9pc of NNUH beds were occupied.

At the start of December the number of beds occupied by Covid patients ranged in the 70s but have stayed above 100 since December 19, rising to 154 on December 29.

Erika Denton, Medical Director at NNUH. Photo: NNUH

Erika Denton, Medical Director at NNUH. Photo: NNUH - Credit: NNUH

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Erika Denton, NNUH medical director, said: “Our teams are going above and beyond during a very challenging time for the NHS and we’d like to thank all those who worked over the busy bank holiday weekend.

“Covid-19 admissions continue to rise and we have opened more critical care capacity. Winter pressures and the pandemic are putting extreme pressure on the NHS in Norfolk and Waveney and we’d urge everyone to keep following the national rules and hands, space, face guidance."

At the weekend, the trust announced it was temporarily shutting the Cromer minor injuries unit (MIU) to redeploy staff.

Staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has administered nearly 5000 coronavirus vaccinations since December 9.

Staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has administered nearly 5000 coronavirus vaccinations since December 9. - Credit: NNUH

The hospital has also celebrated carrying 5,000 vaccinations since it opened as a coronavirus vaccination hub on December 9, with the first round of patients to receive their second dose in the coming weeks.

The number of patients requiring a ventilator remains below double figures at all of the hospitals, with nine ventilators in use at the NNUH, five at the QEH and four at the JPUH.

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, the number of beds occupied occupied by Covid-19 patients has been more than 100 since December 13.

As of December 29, the percentage of occupied beds stood at 94.6pc, of which more than 20pc was in relation to coronavirus patients.

Denise Smith, chief operating officer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Photo: Queen Elizabeth Hospit

Denise Smith, chief operating officer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital - Credit: QEH

Denise Smith, chief operating officer at the QEH, said: “As predicted, the Bank Holiday weekend was hugely challenging for the Trust, the region and the wider NHS.

"We have tried and tested measures in place to help us to manage winter pressures and demand. We ask each member of our local community to play your part and continue to follow the rules by washing your hands regularly, following social distancing rules, and wearing a face mask.

"We also remind our local community that there is a range of services available; including calling NHS 111 if you need urgent care, speaking to a GP for non-urgent or ongoing concerns, and using a local pharmacist for medication and advice.”

At the James Paget University Hospital, at the start of December the number of beds occupied was 14 and as of December 29 it has 50 covid patients occupying beds. 

NHS figures show nearly 94pc of beds were occupied towards the end of the month.

The hospital's new emergency department expansion opened to its first patients on December 30.

JPUH Deputy Chief Operating Officer Nicola Cottington said: “We have robust plans which we use during peaks of demand, as we do every winter, working closely with our system partners.

“It has been very busy at our hospital, both during and after the New Year break. Infection rates are rising both locally and nationally and we are seeing increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients, which is why it is so important for everyone to follow the latest national guidance to the letter, at all times, and to keep socially distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands.”




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