Patients put on temporary beds in Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn’s A&E as demand keeps rising

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A senior figure at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) says 'robust plans' are in place to cope with an expected increase in patient numbers.

Patricia Dunmore's comments came after it emerged 18 patients on one occasion were put on 'escalation beds' overnight in the hospital's A&E department while waiting for inpatient beds to become available.

According to a report by chief executive Dorothy Hosein the hospital trust is experiencing 'very serious challenges' to manage its emergency flow. The QEH has been on 'black alert' five times so far this month.

An increase in the acuity of patients entering the hospital and delays to patient discharges are among reasons for the problems, officials say. And this causes a knock-on effect on ambulances, whose crews must wait longer to hand over their patients to the hospital.

Latest figures reveal ambulance handover delays rocketed from 176 hours in September to 324 in October.

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This leaves the hospital open to be penalised by clinical commissioning groups(CCGs), with October's hand-over delays incurring fines of £121,600 alone, compared to £49,400 in September.

The trust said it has had to cope with an 11pc increase in the number of ambulances taking patients to the hospital's A&E in recent weeks.

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Ms Dunmore said: 'We have put robust plans in place to cope with the expected increase in patient numbers over the coming months.

'Plans include creating escalation beds within the hospital and opening more beds in the community. Although patients being bedded in A&E and longer ambulance handover times in some instances are not ideal, we have ensured on every occasion patient safety has not been compromised.'

At Norfolk's other major hospitals, the N&N reported it was currently on 'red alert' (the third highest category of demand) while the James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston said it was experiencing usual pressures.

West Norfolk CCG, responsible for overall healthcare in the area, said fines levied on the trust for ambulance handover delays were often reinvested back into the hospital, usually with conditions applied as to how the money is used.

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