Emergencies put James Paget Hospital in Gorleston under pressure

A HUGE increase in the number of emergency admissions has put the James Paget University Hospital under significant pressure over recent months, a hospital spokesman said this week.

Details of the overwhelming demand on resources came after a number of patients and family members criticised the standard of care at the Trust which maintains it has “many more compliments than criticisms.”

A hospital spokesman said: “While these additional pressures cannot be an excuse for failing to provide the standards of care expected, the challenges faced in recent months have been significant and staff have been working to maintain standards under very difficult circumstances.”

The Trust claims says it has seen substantially higher demand for its services than could have been reasonably planned for. Up to the end of December there had been a 6pc increase in emergency activity year on year, an average of 80 additional patients per month.

It then saw emergency admissions rise by 13pc in January compared to January 2010. This equates to 197 additional patients in that month. This has led to large numbers of elective surgery being cancelled and re-scheduled because of a shortage of beds.

Interim director of nursing Andrew Fox said the hospital had learned lessons from the unprecedented increase in admissions, and a number of initiatives were being introduced to ensure a high standard of care –including hospital parking tokens for people who help feed their relatives.

“It is important to acknowledge that many of our patients and visitors have a positive experience which is reflected in the number of letters and cards we receive,” Mr Fox said.

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Chief matron Julia Hunt added: “We really do want all patients, carers and family members to talk to us face to face about questions, concerns or suggestions they might have. This allows us to take positive action to allay those concerns and most importantly to respond in the best interests of the patient.”

A number of projects are already under way and include the ‘More about Me’ dementia programme and the Patient Safety Project. The hospital is also piloting a mealtime assistance token for family members who help feed their relatives. Other initiatives have been embedded throughout the Trust over a longer period of time include eliminating mixed sex accommodation and protected meal times.

The Trust’s governors are regularly updated on the scale of demand. It is their role to represent the local population and to hold the Trust’s board of directors to account.

Hugh Sturzaker, deputy chairman of governors and lead governor said: “For many months the hospital has been under extreme pressures. This has meant postponement of many elective operations and the movement of patients to different wards. This is not good for patients and their carers and puts massive strain on the staff. It is a credit to the staff that during this time there have been many more compliments about the standard of care than criticisms.

“I think it is important for the public to realise that every complaint is thoroughly investigated and lessons learnt from this are put into effect. The James Paget is a great hospital of which the majority of the local population is justly proud. Let us work together to make sure this continues to be the case.”

The Trust is investing �250,000 on increasing staffing to help provide essential care in ward areas, starting with the appointment of additional healthcare assistants this week.

A spokesman added: “We are asking people with questions or concerns to speak to us direct and we will ensure matrons are more available during visiting times.”