Norfolk hospital reports lowest Covid patient numbers for five months

Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn

Dealing with critically-ill Covid patents has placed "immense pressure" on staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital - Credit: QEH

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn is now treating seven patients for coronavirus - the lowest number since early October.

At the height of the second wave, 234 people were in hospital with Covid-19. 

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

Caroline Shaw, chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn. - Credit: QEH

Chief executive Caroline Shaw praised staff's efforts over the last 12 months for working through the pandemic but also implementing "tremendous changes" which have been recognised by health inspectors.

Last week the Care Quality Commission lifted a further 10 conditions that had been placed on the trust following an inspection last September.

Mrs Shaw said: "This was a hospital that was in special measures and where there was real concern from our staff, the public and families about the quality of care. 

"What I am terribly proud about is we have done that during a pandemic. The massive improvement which is recognised by the CQC is down our staff and the determination of actually we're going to do this for our patient.

"We would welcome a revisit from the CQC. 

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"Achieving is easy, we have to sustain this performance and make sure we have continuous improvement and are not just doing it because the regulator says we have to do it, it's about what is right for patients and staff."

She said the hospital was making a small financial surplus for the first time.

The pandemic halted elective surgeries apart from cancer treatment at the trust in the latest wave, resulting in more than 1,300 patients waiting more than 52 weeks for treatment. 

Mrs Shaw said: "We have never had that and that is what we have to deal with."

She said the icing on the cake for 2021 would be to secure assurance of a new hospital in King's Lynn.

The hospital's vaccination hub has also seen 25,000, including 95pc of trust staff, with the programme being hailed as a "significant" boost by the trust's chairman of the board.

A further 1,000 people have been vaccinated at the new Downham Market centre that opened last week.

This week the hospital is trialling a drop in centre for those over the age of 55 who have not had their vaccine.

One will be held on Friday at the hospital's Inspire Centre between 8.30am and 7.30pm.