Hospital bans visitors and cancels surgery as it prepares for coronavirus surge

Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital has introduced a range of strict new measues to help it

Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital has introduced a range of strict new measues to help it cope when the coronavirus infection reaches its peak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

A hospital is banning all visitors unless there are “exceptional circumstances” and cancelling outpatient appointments and elective procedures.

The move comes after the government’s lockdown announcement aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus, and will also see a temporary A&E department and separate zones for those who are infected.

The James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, is implementing the following with immediate effect ahead of an anticipated spike in cases.

• No visitors will be allowed into the hospital to see patients, unless there are exceptional circumstances agreed with the ward manager in advance.

• All routine face-to-face outpatient appointments and elective procedures will be postponed from today, March 24.

Patients will be informed in due course about further arrangements but should not come to the hospital unless specifically asked to do so.

• Urgent appointments and emergency surgery will continue as normal.

• The A&E department remains open for patients requiring urgent care.

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People are being reminded they should not visit the hospital if they have the symptoms of Covid-19, which include a high temperature and/or a new continuous cough.

In the coming days, the hospital will be split into two “zones” to protect both patients and staff, as the trust accelerates its plans for dealing with the pandemic.

The clearly-marked zones are designed to keep patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus separate from people who are not infected.

Green zones will be used for treating patients who do not have the COVID-19 virus.

Yellow zones will be used for treating patients who are suspected or confirmed as having the infection.

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Measures will include the creation of a temporary A&E facility, specifically for patients suffering from severe respiratory illness.

Trust chief operating officer Joanne Segasby said: “As the chief medical officer has stated, NHS services are likely to come under intense pressure as the coronavirus spreads, and we need to ensure that we have as many beds available as possible to care for patients with severe respiratory problems when the number of infections peaks.

“Therefore, in line with well-established plans for situations like this, every hospital in England has now been asked to suspend all non-urgent elective work for at least three months, so we can train our staff and adapt certain areas.

“Urgent and emergency cases and cancer treatments will be carrying on as normal, but we know many people waiting for treatment will be disappointed or worried, and we will be contacting everyone affected as soon as possible.”

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