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Soaring demand for Norfolk healthcare

PUBLISHED: 10:52 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:54 03 July 2010

A top team of national experts have been drafted in to deal with the soaring demand for emergency healthcare in Norfolk.

Increased patient demand has been putting a major strain on health services and is one of the reasons for the cancellation of operations.

A top team of national experts have been drafted in to deal with the soaring demand for emergency healthcare in Norfolk.

Increased patient demand has been putting a major strain on health services and is one of the reasons for the cancellation of operations.

Now, the Department of Health's Emergency Intensive Support Team has been invited to work with Norfolk's hospitals, GPs, and other partners to manage demand in the county's health service.

The prime aim is to reduce the number of elective operations that are being cancelled to make way for emergency admissions.

From April to June 2009, 230 operations were cancelled at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and there has been a 16pc increase in medical emergency admissions since last year.

Steve Davies, interim chief operating officer at NHS Norfolk, said: “The Emergency Intensive Support Team has recently been established to help manage demand for emergency health services across the country and NHS Norfolk is pleased to get in first and pro-actively deal with the situation here.”

NHS Norfolk has already commissioned surgery in more NHS and private hospitals, both within and outside the county, to ensure patients receive treatment promptly.

An advertising campaign on TV, radio, in newspapers and on buses is under way, promoting the new “Choose Well” campaign. Its message is for people to go to their GP, pharmacist or nearest walk-in centre if they need urgent care.

Mr Davies added: “Several counties in the UK are experiencing unprecedented demand for urgent and emergency care. Not all of it is appropriate for A&E - much of it can be dealt with at community level and not always in our acute hospitals.”

Last year there were problems with the number of patients whose discharge from hospital was delayed because of a lack of community care beds. But so far this year, the number of patients awaiting discharge to community beds from the N&N is significantly lower but there are still about 15 to 20 patients bed-blocking at any one time.

At the N&N on Monday, there were 15 patients awaiting health or social care beds and two patients awaiting continuing health care assessments, around half the levels of the same Monday last year.

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn on Monday, there were no patients awaiting health or social care beds, compared to five a year ago.

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