Council paid ‘golden hellos’ to free up beds amid warning NHS crisis will continue

PUBLISHED: 11:16 15 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:23 15 January 2018

Ambulances queuing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital A&E department.

Ambulances queuing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital A&E department. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

The pressure on the NHS over Christmas meant Norfolk County Council bosses had to pay “golden hellos” to care providers to take in patients to free up beds.

And the director of adult social care at County Hall said high levels of illness are likely to mean demand on health services remains high for the next three weeks.

All three of Norfolk’s hospitals were completely full at points over the Christmas and New Year period.

Between December 24 and January 7, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) hit 100pc bed occupancy twice, with all other days being in the 80pc and 90pc range.

At the James Paget Univeristy Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston, bed occupancy reached 100pc 11 times - including being completely full between December 31 and January 7.

Executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council James Bullion. Picture Norfolk County Council Executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council James Bullion. Picture Norfolk County Council

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn capacity was reached four times in the same period.

And, at a meeting of Norfolk County Council’s Adult Social Care Committee today, the service’s director James Bullion revealed the knock-on effect the NHS pressures had on the council.

He said: “Despite extensive planning to reduce the level of inpatients before Christmas, we have seen excessive pressures and lack of capacity and staffing in some places, that’s led to a significant increase in the number of referrals to the local authority from the NHS.”

He said some social workers had been taken out of their community settings to help in hospitals.

And he said the council had paid “golden hellos” to care providers for them to take in patients from hospitals.

Mr Bullion said: “We have had to increase the financial incentives for care providers so they will take people with a ‘golden hello’ payment for those coming in at weekends or overnight.

“We have worked with care providers so they understand the gravity of the situation for hospitals and patients’ families.”

Mr Bullion said the number of delays to transfer of care was likely to have increased by about 200 days over the Christmas period.

And he said the council’s emergency duty teams, which responds to social care referrals outside of normal office hours, had more than 350 calls - up by 250 on the same period last year.

Mr Bullion said it was too early to say what the added pressure and spending would have cost.

He said: “We don’t yet have the impact on the service’s budget, but it will have an impact in due course.”

Mr Bullion added that he wanted to thank the council’s staff and care providers for going “above and beyond” over the festive period.

He said: “Our response was to increase overtime and weekend working.

“I know that disrupted family life for lots of our staff and I would like to thank them.”

But he warned there is likely to still be further pressures.

He said: “The situation is not over. There are likely to be very high levels of illness and the pressures will continue for the next three weeks.”

Other News

3 minutes ago

The growing problem of homelessness and rough sleeping is to be tacked with a £1.5m fund from Norfolk County Council (NCC).

53 minutes ago

Easy does it! A mill on the Norfolk Broads has been fitted with new sails as part of a National Trust restoration project.


A doctoral research student from Great Yarmouth will be travelling to London to present his chemistry research to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges.

It has been described as an epidemic which affects more than 40,000 people in Norfolk alone.

Most Read

Thu, 08:16

A boys’ haircut dubbed the ‘meet me at McDonald’s’ has fallen foul of uniform rules at a Yarmouth high school

Read more
Mon, 11:46

Police have confirmed more than 30 cars were vandalised in the North Yarmouth area over the weekend.

Read more
Norfolk Police
Wed, 14:07

The family of a Gorleston mother-of-four have paid an emotional tribute to her after she died when she was involved in a collision with a motorcycle in Bradwell last week.

Read more
James Paget University Hospital
Tue, 11:57

Dumping six bags of rubbish next to a green recycling bin has cost a Gorleston man £150 in court and clear-up costs.

Read more
Tue, 16:49

One member of a gang who stole nitrous oxide canisters meant for “life saving” surgery has been jailed for more than two years.

Read more
Norwich Crown Court

Local Weather



max temp: 2°C

min temp: 1°C

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the Great
Yarmouth Mercury

e-edition today


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter