Norfolk hospitals face bed shortages

Flu and other illnesses including breathing difficulties have contributed to bed shortages at hospitals in Norfolk.

Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital was today on 'black alert', which means it is low on available beds to deal with the influx of seasonal increase in illnesses. Some operations have had to be cancelled.

It comes after national cases of flu rose by more than 40pc last week and 12 more people across the country have died from confirmed flu in the past week, taking the death toll to 39.

The spread of illness is putting added strain on Norfolk's major hospitals and the JPH is now calling on people to think carefully before they seek hospital treatment.

Black alert is the highest level of worry on a scale that starts at green and progresses up through amber and red before reaching black.

A spokesman for the Gorleston hospital said today: 'The James Paget University Hospital continues on black alert with the situation being reviewed regularly during the day. Activity remains very high, with an increase in attendances and admissions to the hospital.

'Elective surgery has been affected. Individual patients are being contacted when necessary and advised that their surgery will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

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'In order to alleviate some of the pressures on our services, we would urge anyone who needs medical treatment for minor injuries and illness not to automatically go to A&E but consider all the other options.'

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital remains on red alert, which means beds are running low, but is less severe than black alert. There are no confirmed cases of flu.

It was a busy Christmas at King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, with 180 patients a day against a normal average of 140-150, with many of the patients having flu-like symptoms, with a high proportion of them being children.

A spokesman for the hospital said: 'It gets like this every single year. At this time most hospitals will be on red or black alert because we are obviously busier in winter when it is colder.

'We are more fortunate here though because we have a ward opened specifically to relieve these sorts of pressures as and when we need it, and we haven't had to do that yet, although there are plans to in January when it gets really busy.'