X-ray waiting lists lengthen at Cromer’s �14.9m new hospital

Waiting lists have lengthened dramatically for x-rays at Cromer's new hospital because of 'maddening' problems with equipment, the News can reveal.

Since the �14.9m Mill Road hospital opened, problems with a �70,000 x-ray machine have seen waits for GP referrals rise from two weeks to six weeks.

The new machine was brought in when the new facility opened, to replace the older of the two units that were used at the old hospital.

But, according to a source, frustrated staff found that it was 'not fit for purpose', and it had now been temporarily replaced with a mobile unit, which was also 'not up to the job'.

And, while hospital chiefs are trying to sort out the problem with suppliers, the x-ray team is 'flat out' to meet rising demand.

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The move to the new hospital saw one x-ray machine transferred to the new site, while the 1970s unit was replaced.

Officials brought in a �70,000 machine that was bought when the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust made a bid to run the Timberhill walk-in GP service in Norwich.

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The source said: 'But they didn't get the contract, so they had nowhere to put the x-ray unit. When Cromer Hospital was built, they said they would put it into the second x-ray room at the new hospital - saving themselves �60,000 that they would've had to spend.

'So they did that, and absorbed the �60,000 into the Norwich radiology budget.'

The source said Cromer's radiology staff soon discovered that there were problems with the trolley, including:

? It was a transport trolley, not a rise-and-fall table, which was 'not ideal' for elderly patients

? The brakes were not good enough

? It did not have an emergency button to use in the event of a heart attack.

There were also issues with the x-ray unit, including:

? The radiation did not correspond to the area of the light beam when it was vertical

? It could not be cleaned with a chlorine solution - only soapy water

? It was not sealed, and water could get into the unit.

The litany of issues saw the machine and trolley declared 'not fit for purpose' by the hospital's cardiac arrest, health and safety, radiation safety and infection control staff.

The source said: 'They've been given a mobile unit, which is what you take into wards. That's plugged in permanently in the room that is not fit for purpose. It's painted like a giraffe because it's a children's unit.

'Staff are now hammering that piece of equipment because they're struggling to maintain a service for the Cromer public.'

She added: 'The numbers being examined has increase by 20pc per year. Before they moved over, waiting lists for GP appointments were two weeks. Now they are over six weeks.

'They added Saturday morning lists to try to recover that lost time, but the powers that be have now stopped that because they can't afford to pay the staff.'

She said GPs were now 'starting to grumble', and went on: 'It's maddening that the powers that be are not getting it sorted out. They should have ripped it out and given them a unit that's fit for purpose.'

Chris Cobb, divisional general manager at NNUH, said: 'We are working with our suppliers to address the operational issues with the second x-ray machine at Cromer Hospital.

'In the meantime, we are maintaining the service to patients with a portable x-ray machine which has been installed as a temporary measure.'

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