James Paget at 40: Commissioning services for the new hospital

Peter Harris with DGH news leaflets

Peter Harris with DGH news leaflets - Credit: JPUH

The James Paget University Hospital was officially opened 40 years this month.

To celebrate the landmark anniversary we are looking at the history of the hospital and its construction.

Here we look at the commissioning of services for the new hospital.

While construction of the new hospital was underway, another team moved onto the site, with a key role of ensuring that patient care could start the minute the doors opened.

The team was led by Peter Harrison, who was the Commissioning Officer for the two phases of the Paget’s building programme.

Peter led a team of five based in the newly-finished residences buildings, overlooking the construction site. The team’s remit was to oversee the smooth transfer of services to the Paget from other hospitals in the area, including the old Great Yarmouth General Hospital, Lowestoft Hospital and Northgate Hospital.

It was a major undertaking, which merited its own front page story in the January 1981 edition of the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Health District ‘DGH News’, one of three newsletters which Peter has kept.

Under the banner of the ‘Coastal Hospital for the Eighties’, the article details how “the commissioning team had worked for nearly four years to achieve its objective of translating the details of the original planning decisions into Operational Policies for 28 departments.”

The article records how the commissioning team worked closely with departmental heads to agree policies and equipment schedules and notes that “until all the decision have been made on how each department will function and be equipped, it is impossible to bring the hospital into use as an effective running unit.”

A commissioning document from Peter Harrison

A commissioning document from Peter Harrison - Credit: JPUH

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Included in this planning were bringing together staff that would form the new teams to run the hospital.

“There was a mix of staff, new and old,” recalls Peter. “Staff came from both hospitals in the district and from further afield. They all had their different ways of working - so this had to be handled sensitively to ensure they felt comfortable and could gel as a team.”

Peter has the original chart showing the phasing of the equipping and opening of departments from neighbouring hospitals in Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

James paget

A bird's eye view of the James Paget University Hospital - Credit: JPUH

He also has the original plan setting out in detail the location of the various stalls and activities for the new hospital’s first fete, held in September 1982.

The plan shows an events arena, craft exhibition and more than 30 stalls on the back field in the area of the helipad.

The fete plan drawn up by Peter Harrison

The fete plan drawn up by Peter Harrison - Credit: JPUH

“The fact that so many people got involved in the first fete was really positive,” said Peter. “It helped publicise the Paget as a new community facility, gave the staff something they could support and raised money for the new social club at the same time.”

Records show that the first fete was indeed a success, raising more than £1500 for the social club.