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How £4.2m boost will be used to ease pressure on Norfolk’s hospitals this winter

Efforrts are to be made to prevent a repeat of last winter's crisis . Pic: IAN BURT

Efforrts are to be made to prevent a repeat of last winter's crisis . Pic: IAN BURT

Archant © 2008

Shop workers worried about the future of their jobs are to be targeted in a recruitment blitz for care workers - to help ease winter pressures on hospitals.

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council. Picture Norfolk County CouncilJames Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council. Picture Norfolk County Council

Last winter, Norfolk’s health and social care system struggled to cope. Thousands of patients waited more than an hour to be transferred from ambulances to the county’s hospitals, while wards were regularly packed above the recommended safe limit of 85pc occupancy.

Targets over social care-related discharges from hospitals were missed by Norfolk County Council. But they pledge this year will be different, with closer working with the NHS and the aid of £4.2m of extra cash from the government.

Members of the council’s adult social care committee heard how £730,000 will be used to avoid unnecessary delays in hospital for people with mental health difficulties, with dementia and people at the end of their lives who want to die at home.

Some of that money will also be used to provide extra care for people back home in the days after they have been discharged.

A slice of £2.2m will be spent on a targeted recruitment campaign for the independent care sector and James Bullion, director of adult social care, said that could see High Street workers targeted to encourage them to switch careers.

He said: “What it will address is the positive nature of what it is to work in the care sector and being a carer and break the negative image that the sector has.

“There might be people in the retail sector who see that sector is declining and want to work in the care sector. This campaign is absolutely essential if we are to work constructively with the care sector.”

More than a million pounds will also be used to bolster short-term capacity in homecare and care homes and to pay for packages of care.

Conservative councillor Penny Carpenter said the public did not want to see more ambulances queuing outside hospitals.

Mark Burgess, chief operating officer for North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, who is co-ordinating planning for winter pressures in Norfolk and Waveney, said extra assessment bays would be provided for ambulances to speed up hospital admissions.

Bill Borrett, Conservative committee chairman, said planning had taken a “quantum leap” forward.

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