Norfolk & Norwich Hospital struggles with record number of A&E patients

The interim Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital CEO Mark Davies, speaking at the hospital AGM. P

The interim Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital CEO Mark Davies, speaking at the hospital AGM. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

The new interim chief executive at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) has admitted it is struggling to keep pace with rising demand at a time when A&E attendance has hit record levels.

Patient numbers through the hospital's A&E in July and August were the highest ever, according to Mark Davies, with the interim boss adding that the so-called winter pressure now affects the trust all year.

A total of 10,775 patients visited the trust's A&E, urgent care centre, and minor injuries units in July, which equates to 347.5 admissions every day.

'Numbers are going up and that's not sustainable,' said Mr Davies.

'We are looking at how we can change the system with our health partners.' It comes as the trust must make £21m of savings this financial year, after ending 2014/15 with a deficit for the first time.

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But even if £21m worth of savings are delivered by April 1 next year the trust still expects to finish with a £9.5m deficit.

The trust is currently on target to meet that figure, according to Sheila Budd, the trust's deputy director of resources who presented the financial report.

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Reducing agency staffing costs is key to the trust meeting its financial targets, Mr Davies said.

The increased demand and tough financial situation comes as the trust prepares for a vital inspection from health watchdog the Care Quality Commission in November.

During the week-long inspection around 60 experts will scrutinise the trust's performance and publish their findings shortly after.

Mr Davies said: 'We are preparing very hard for it.

'We're not over-confident and not complacent. The staff are preparing hard and we are looking forward to showing the CQC our facilities.'

The previous inspection found an alleged 'bullying culture' from the senior levels of management, with then chief executive Anna Dugdale resigning shortly afterwards in June.

Mr Davies said the trust had taken steps to resolve the culture highlighted by the CQC.

'We have taken that very seriously,' he said.

'I have begun holding monthly meetings which every member of staff can attend.

'So far there have been around 100 staff at the meetings and they range from cleaners to consultants.

'I also send a personal email to staff every month where I include information about what is said in those meetings.'

He said staff are also invited to contribute to changes and transformations carried out at the trust.

The trust's board meets in public today in the N&N boardroom at 9am.

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