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Routine surgery set to resume at Norfolk hospital as coronavirus cases ‘plateau’ and 100 beds remain empty

PUBLISHED: 12:27 05 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:27 05 May 2020

Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital has 100 empty beds and is stressing they are very much open to patients Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital has 100 empty beds and is stressing they are very much open to patients Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A Norfolk hospital is looking to resume routine operations as 100 beds remain empty and the number of coronavirus cases falls.

But it will still need to be flexible in case of a second wave of infections that could further impact on services and hamper any return to normal.

Anna Hills, chief executive of the James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston, said she was keen to reassure patients it was safe to come to hospital amid concerns that those who needed treatment were putting it off.

For some there was a fear of catching Covid-19 on the wards, whereas others might be wary of putting further strain on the NHS, she said.

“We have got around 100 beds empty and the A&E department is much quieter than it usually would be, which is a bit of a worry,” she said.

Anna Hills, chief executive of James Paget University Hospital. Picture: James Paget University Hospital.Anna Hills, chief executive of James Paget University Hospital. Picture: James Paget University Hospital.

“We are concerned that some people might be keeping away.

“We really want to get the message across that the NHS is still open for business.

“We have really changed the way that we are working in the hospital with the green and yellow zones.

“There are some things that you really need to come to hospital for.

James Paget Hospital chief executive, Anna Hills, celebrates their 'good' CQC rating. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJames Paget Hospital chief executive, Anna Hills, celebrates their 'good' CQC rating. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“We have carried on seeing our patients on cancer pathways but we definitely have fewer people through A&E.”

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She stressed there were three entrances to the emergency department including a separate one for children.

“Some of it may be they do not want to trouble the NHS anymore, but we are still here,” she stressed.

Mrs Hills said some 5,000 outpatients had been seen via video appointments and that medical teams were starting to look at how they could re-start planned operations which were all suspended last month.

She said the move recognised they were starting to see a plateau in the number of coronavirus cases.

“At the moment we have the beds and we have the staff, and patients still need their treatment,” she added.

“We are a long way from London and social distancing has worked well.

“Over the last couple of weeks things have plateaued but we need to remain flexible.”

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Mrs Hills hailed the rallying response of the 3,500-strong workforce at the JPUH who had all “stepped up.”

“It is a very difficult time for all of us in our personal lives and for all the staff here,” she said.

“I have to say people have really, really stepped up.

“It is really quite inspiring to see how people have adapted while still being really patient-focussed and compassionate.

“It is just wonderful to see, while still having their own anxieties.”

The response from the community which was showing its support in many ways was also hugely important, she said.

“Our community has always been supportive of the hospital but this has just gone above and beyond what we expected.

“But they have also helped us in terms of supplying PPE and making PPE.”

She said the PPE challenge had been a global one but that the supply at the JPUH meant they had been able to maintain “adequate levels” and that deliveries had been mostly been “just in time”.

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The donations from the public and businesses of extra items had helped bring “that extra level of confidence”, she added.

Adhering to government advice on social distancing was critical to stopping the spread of the disease, she stressed.

Meanwhile she said the many donations and food deliveries being taken to the hospital and the general level of support for the NHS with the weekly clap had really made a difference.

She said she was keen to thank all those who were doing so much to help.

“It really does mean a lot. The staff are just outstanding.

“It is one of the most difficult things they will ever have to deal with in both their professional and personal lives.

“I feel really well supported and so proud.”


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