Watchdog to keep close eye on under pressure Norfolk hospital

The A&E department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise Bradley

The A&E department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

A health watchdog has pledged to keep a close eye on the performance of Norfolk's biggest hospital after its chief executive admitted that the standard of care was not what she would expect for her loved ones.

A huge rise in emergency admissions has resulted in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital being full to capacity and makeshift wards have been created at the Colney site in recent months, its CEO Anna Dugdale said last week.

Front-line staff at NHS trust have been placed under intense pressure as a result of an almost 10pc increase in A&E activity this year, which has resulted in some routine operations being cancelled.

Commissioners who fund services at the N&N said they would continue to monitor the situation closely. However, there were no major fears that patient safety was being affected by the increased demand on services.

Officials at the N&N said they had put extra beds in non-clinical areas of the hospital at the medical school.

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The trust has also missed its target of seeing 95pc of A&E patients within four hours on a number of occasions this year and two patients had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E.

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, questioned whether the N&N had become a 'victim of its own success.' 'People feel so comfortable about turning up at A&E and 33pc who go there go away without being treated and we would ask why people are turning up there in the first place and could they go to their pharmacist or see their GP?'

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'We have no areas of concerns from the feedback we are getting from people at the moment, but we are keeping a watching brief,' he said.

No major concerns have been raised about the quality of services at the N&N by the Care Quality Commission.

Officials from Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is in charge of NHS purse strings in the Norwich area, added that their quality patient safety committee remained assured that the N&N was providing safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led services.

Sheila Glenn, director of quality, strategy and innovation at the CCG, said: 'There are no specific areas of concern for the N&N, but we need to be more vigilant about unplanned activity and the hospital has been under enormous pressure. We have not seen any impact on patient safety and quality and we will continue to keep an eye on that.'

Chris Price, chairman of the CCG, added: 'There seems to be a behavioural change that A&E is the destination of choice and perhaps it is too good an offer.'

A new urgent care centre is set to be created at the N&N later this year following a £2.5m investment from CCGs to help ease pressure on the A&E department. More than 2,000 patients were treated at a temporary unit by GPs and community health staff during a three month trial last winter.

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