Norfolk hospital pledges to put extra A&E staff on duty this bank holiday

Ambulances parked up outside A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise Bra

Ambulances parked up outside A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

Accident and Emergency chiefs at Norfolk's main hospital pledged to put extra doctors and nurses on duty this weekend to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenes during the last bank holiday.

A makeshift tent was constructed outside the A&E department of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Easter Monday after up to 15 ambulances were queued outside with patients waiting up to three hours.

Officials at the NHS trust today said they were increasing staff numbers in the emergency department for the forthcoming bank holiday weekend to meet a potential surge in admissions.

The Colney site has experienced a more than 35pc increase in A&E admissions over the last ten years and bosses were caught out by a huge increase of extra patients on April 1, which led to the East of England Ambulance Service erecting a £70,000 tent outside the hospital.

The temporary ward was not used to treat patients in the end, but officials at the N&N said they had a plan in place to avoid a similar situation occurring during the May bank holidays.

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The hospital usually has 14 nurses on duty at any one time and there will be an extra two working to try and meet anticipated demand.

Victor Inyang, clinical director of A&E at the N&N, added: 'I have reviewed staffing levels from Friday to Monday and we have got a very robust arrangement regards to doctors numbers in the department. We feel that we will match surges we get and colleagues have been liaising with the ambulance service and primary care and out of hours provision and the 111 service to make sure they are all geared up to do their bit.'

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The N&N is experiencing a year-on-year increase in A&E admissions after seeing 90,700 patients last year, compared to 58,107 emergency and minor injury cases in 2002.

Dr Inyang added that the hospital was working closely with the ambulance service, GPs, primary care providers and community health services to improve urgent care across central Norfolk as part of Project Domino, which was launched last year.

'We are the most visible part of the whole system and we are now at the point where everyone has woken up to the issue. It is not good medicine to have ambulances queued outside and we are working very hard to prevent that from happening again. It is very disappointing and we feel for the patients because they could be your relative or friend and it is frustrating for the staff,' he said.

Patients were urged to visit their community pharmacy or call the 111 non-emergency number if they suffer minor injuries or ailment this bank holiday weekend.

The walk-in Timber Hill Health Centre in Castle Mall, Norwich, is also open from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and the Cromer Minor Injuries Unit at Cromer Hospital, is open from 8am to 8pm every day.

Dr Cath Robinson, a Norwich GP from the Norwich Clinical Commissioing Group, said: 'Everyone can help themselves and also help the NHS by choosing the right care if they need it so we always ask members of the public, 'help us to help you'.'

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