Outbreak of norovirus put pressure on Gorleston’s James Paget Hospital
A Norfolk hospital's recent outbreak of norovirus was its worst for more than a decade, it has emerged.
At its height, eight wards at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston were shut to new admissions, causing significant pressures and the most serious outbreak it has had since 2001.
The news comes as it emerges the Department of Health's intensive support team, which has been working with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn to improve performance, will now be working with the James Paget to bring down its accident and emergency waiting times.
Nationally, the number of people spending more than four hours in A&E has risen, according to new figures.
The percentage of people spending more than four hours in emergency departments rose from 4pc of all attendances in 2009/10 to 5.6pc in 2010/11.
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From April to December in 2010, the James Paget had just 2.5pc of people waiting more than four hours in A&E, but this rose to 5.3pc for the same period in 2011.
The trust said that allowing for a technical adjustment of minor injury unit figures no longer being included in the calculation, the current position of the hospital trust was a 2pc increase on the same period last year.
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Norfolk and Waveney as a whole, and each individual hospital in the area, managed to meet the 95pc target to see people in A&E within four house in the second quarter of 2011/13.
The figures for the third quarter are not yet formally published, but the James Paget will miss the four-hour target and QEH is expected to be fractionally ahead.
A spokesman for the James Paget said: 'The trust has asked the Department of Health's Intensive Support Team to provide assistance, looking in detail at A&E and the emergency care pathway throughout the healthcare system, focusing on how patients arrive at the trust and the patient's journey from arrival at A&E through to their discharge.'
The hospital has eased some pressure following an internal reorganisation. By putting into place an 'enhanced recovery programme' to help patients recover from operations more quickly, the hospital was acle to reconfigure its day surgery unit so that male and female day surgery beds were now provided within single sex surgical ward areas and the remaining beds were now being used as medical beds.
Despite the outbreak at the James Paget, at a recent meeting of NHS Norfolk and Waveney, deputy chief executive Ian Ayres said: 'We are well in to January and well through the winter so far. So far we haven't had a bad winter.
'Pressure was high in early December but Christmas was managed very well. New Year we saw some pressure again at most of the hospitals and ambulance trust. But we have recovered from the New Year period, but it is a challenging period compounded by outbreaks of norovirus, although it's not as bad as previous years. We have benefited from the weather not being as bad and flu hasn't been bad either.'