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‘We’re having to take beds out’: coronavirus surge hitting hospitals

PUBLISHED: 13:37 14 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:23 15 October 2020

Caroline Shaw, chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Pic: Sonya Duncan.

Caroline Shaw, chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Pic: Sonya Duncan.

The increasing number of people with coronavirus needing treatment in Norfolk’s hospitals is already putting pressure on the NHS, hospital bosses said.

Melanie Craig, chief officer of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group. Picture: NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCGMelanie Craig, chief officer of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group. Picture: NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG

There are 28 people with the virus being treated in Norfolk’s three hospitals - five in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, 13 in the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston and 10 in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn.

It comes as the number of cases in Norfolk increases, particularly in Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

At a meeting of Norfolk and Waveney Health and Wellbeing Board, Caroline Shaw, chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said the increase was already having an impact.

She said: “With double the number of Covid patients we’ve seen this week, we’re having to take beds out. That’s because, when you’re nursing a Covid patient and they’re not yet on a Covid ward, you can’t nurse around that patient because of the infection control.

“The practicalities of social distancing in regard to delivering safe care is hugely challenging.”

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Mrs Shaw said the hospital - and its patients - were still feeling the impact of the first wave of the coronavirus.

She said: “The reality of this is that it is really, really challenging. Pre-Covid, we had no patients waiting over 52 weeks. We now have 354.

“Pre-Covid, we had no-one waiting over 104 days, or 64 days for cancer treatment. Now we have and the waiting list has grown by about 2,000 patients.

“It is a huge challenge. However, we are making indents on it and the time to wait for cancer patients has absolutely gone down.”

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital recently bought the former private hospital BMI Sandringham, to help clear the backlog in elective surgery.

During a discussion over the winter resilience plan for Norfolk’s social care and hospitals, David Edwards, from Heathwatch Norfolk, sought reassurance over cancer and other elective services in the next wave.

Melanie Craig, chief officer of NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said GPs and hospitals had adapted services since March, so more people were now being seen and cared for.

She said she was not anticipating the NHS would be told to stop elective or cancer care.


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