Norfolk’s largest hospital closes 68 beds across three wards in temporary measure to cut staff costs

PUBLISHED: 08:30 31 August 2016 | UPDATED: 13:57 31 August 2016

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Date: Aug 2014. Picture: MIKE PAGE

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Date: Aug 2014. Picture: MIKE PAGE

Copypright Mike Page, All Rights Reserved Before any use is made of this picture, including dispaly, publication, broadcast, syn

Nearly 70 beds have been closed across three wards at Norfolk’s biggest hospital this month, it has emerged.

But the changes at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital – to Cringleford, Edgefield, and Holt wards – are only “temporary”, according to senior chiefs.

The decision to close 68 beds across the wards has been made in a bid to reduce spending on temporary nursing.

Last month the N&N was placed in financial special measures. The hospital trust faces a deficit of more than £30m this year.

Richard Parker, chief operating officer, said it is expected the wards will reopen in around eight weeks time – when 100 newly qualified nurses from University of East Anglia start work at the hospital.

He said the hospital is taking advantage of a seasonal low in patients to consolidate staff onto fewer wards and make savings in agency staffing.

The changes have been made possible because of improvements in the emergency department (A&E) performance and reducing the number of patients staying longer than 14 days, he said.

Bill Adnams, a member of the Norfolk branch of campaign group Keep Our NHS Public, said: “This was predictable and it’s a result of the five-year forward plan for the NHS.

“I think these will be permanent closures. That’s the whole point of these programmes; they’re happening across the country and they will have devastating effects on the NHS.”

There are around 1,200 beds for patients at the N&N.

Meanwhile hospital bosses at James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn said there were no planned bed closures this year.

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