Norfolk hospital says it is making improvements despite coronavirus

Queen Elizabeth Hospital chief executive Caroline Shaw leads a minute's silence in memory of NHS sta

Queen Elizabeth Hospital chief executive Caroline Shaw leads a minute's silence in memory of NHS staff who died of Covid-19. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk hospital in special measures says it has continued to make improvements to patient care despite the “unprecedented” impacts of Covid-19.

Qheen Elizabeth Hospital chief executive Caroline Shaw and Prof Steve Barnett, chair of the Queen El

Qheen Elizabeth Hospital chief executive Caroline Shaw and Prof Steve Barnett, chair of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

The NHS trust which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn held its annual members meeting online on Wednesday afternoon.

Chairman professor Steve Barnett said the year had been an unprecedented one for the trust, the wider NHS and the country as a whole.

But he added the coronavirus pandemic had not prevented the hospital from making significant improvements to the quality of care it delivered to patients.

The 500-bed hospital was placed in special measures in 2018, after health watchdog the Care Quality Commission rated it as “inadequate”.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with staff at the QEH in King's Lynn Picture: Ian Burt

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with staff at the QEH in King's Lynn Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant


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Caroline Shaw, the QEH’s chief executive, said: “Our ambition is to move out of special measures but not just to move out but to become an outstanding district general hospital serving the community.”

Mrs Shaw, who became chief executive in January 2019, said some 71pc of the actions required by the CQC had now been completed.

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She said waiting times had improved despite increased demand. The hospital saw 70,381 A&E attendances last year - an increase of 2.8pc.

Mrs Shaw said moving forwards, the hospital’s priorities would be moving out of special measures aong with modernising its facilities.

She said the QEH was in the process of buying the private Sandringham Hospital on its site to increase capacity, while it would continue lobbying for a new hospital.

Medical director Frankie Swords said the QEH had treated 457 patients for Covid-19, some 153 of whom died.

She said she was confident the care provided had been “exactly as it should be” and the hospital had learned from every case.

Dr Swords said the biggest risk was to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. The average age of those who died was 83.

The hospital was zoned into Covid-19 and non-Covid areas, with social distancing measures, to keep those with coronavirus away from those undergoing treatment who were not infected.

At the peak of the pandemic, six wards were dedicated to caring for Covid-19 patients.

Dr Swords said staff had been “astonishing”, with many deployed to different roles, while workers had been “blown away” by support from the wider community.

Chris Benham, the hospital’s director of finance, said it had met its financial targets and made savings of £6.4m along with a surplus of £50,000.

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