Hospital chief hopes new ambulatory unit will help cope with winter
PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:05 20 September 2018
ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434
It was a year of challenge and progress.
That was the message from the James Paget Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston yesterday (Wednesday) at their annual general meeting, which looked at how the hospital had performed over the last year as well as looking ahead to the future.
The JPUH is the only acute trust in Norfolk which is not deemed to be failing by inspectors but chief executive Christine Allen said that did not mean the year had been easy.
She said: “It’s been a challenging year, demand for services has been immense so it has been tricky but we still managed to make some investments and our staff rose to the challenge.”
The JPUH, like hospitals across the country, saw one of its worst winters ever last year but Mrs Allen hoped a new ambulatory unit, which only opened yesterday, was just one way to help make improvements this year.
The aim is that the new unit, which is designed to rapidly assess and treat patients to avoid an overnight stay, will mean more beds are free for the sickest of patients.
Karen Foden, ambulatory nurse practitioner, said in the first few hours of opening six patients sent to hospital by their GP had arrived, and four had been able to go home and not be admitted due to the new unit. Some 30 patients had been seen in the new unit by yesterday afternoon and it can deal with up to 60 at a time.
Ms Foden said: “We’ll be seeing a lot of patients who need intravenous medication. Before this could be a three week admission, sometimes six.”
But in the new unit, patients could have their treatment then go home again. Ms Foden said: “It just gives the patient a better experience.”
But it was not just winter which was difficult as Mrs Allen said they had also seen pressure through summer. She said: “[During the summer] we tend to see a different type of patient, we see less major activity and more minor with tourists. This year because he had the heatwave we did see an increase of, for example, respiratory patients, so we did see a very busy July and August.”
Mrs Allen thanked staff for their commitment and hard work over the year. She added: “Whatever happens, whatever demand brings, they absolutely step up.”
Food to the forefront
Attendees to the AGM also got to taste the culinary delights available at the new hospital restaurant, which was opened yesterday by chef Galton Blackiston.
Nichola Hicks, head of facilities management, said the catering staff at the hospital served 500,000 meals for patients over the year, with all being made fresh on site on a budget of £3 per patient for three meals a day.
She said the team had lots to handle on a daily basis. She said: “We have many different diets to contend with. People who don’t want to be here, people who don’t feel like eating, and people whose medication changes how meals taste. Our customers are the must difficult in the industry.”
But she said they took pride in their work, and a tasting menu including vegetable soup, beef casserole with mashed potato, vegetable pasta, chicken curry, mushroom stroganoff, and apple cake was served up to taste, with positive feedback all around.
Eye health under the spotlight
The keynote speech at the AGM was given by consultant ophthalmologist Tom Butler on eye procedures and the growing demand in ophthalmology.
Mr Butler said in 2011 his department saw around 36,000 patients a year, but last year this had rocketed to 50,000. But that an expansion in facilities had helped.
He said: “That’s a 30pc increase over that six year period, there has not been a 30pc increase in staff.”
He said one of the most common ailments treated in the department, which recently opened a new clinic at Beccles Hospital, was wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Wet AMD causes a rapid loss of vision if it is not treated and often patients need monthly injections into the eye. To demonstrate the rise in demand Mr Butler said: “We are doing about 160 injections a week and growing, in 2008 it was 20 injections a week.”
And he said each injection cost £720 for the drug alone and joked: “I think we have the nickname in the finance department of Oliver Twist as we’re always asking for more and I make no apologies for that.”