‘We’re working to meet winter pressures’, says Lynn’s QEH

QEH General Views of the outside of the hospital
QEH General Views of the outside of the hospital

Eighteen patients were put in temporary beds in Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital accident and emergency unit on a single night because of a shortage of space.

The incident, which happened earlier this month, was revealed in reports published ahead of the trust board’s latest meeting on Tuesday.

Officials have also revealed there have been five incidents of black alert, the highest level of alert, which usually means maximum bed capacity has been reached, during November alone.

And the hospital has incurred more than £120,000 worth of fines for delays in ambulance crews handing over patients to hospital staff, more than double the figure for the previous month.

But managers say they are working on a range of measures to help tackle the problems, as winter pressures on the Gayton Road site begin to escalate.

Patricia Dunmore, the hospital’s interim chief operating officer, said: “We have put robust plans in place to cope with the expected increase in patient numbers over the coming months.

“Although patients being bedded in A&E and longer ambulance handover times in some instances are not ideal, we have ensured that, on every occasion, patient safety has not been compromised.”

In her report to the board, chief executive Dorothy Hosein added: “These pressures make it all the more important for us to work together and support each other as ‘teams’, to ensure that our patients are safe in these challenging times.”

Mrs Hosein also said officials were working with union leaders in a bid to minimise the impact of next week’s scheduled strike by junior doctors on the hospital.

Three walkouts are planned for December 1, 8 and 16 in a dispute over the planned imposition of new contracts by the government, although talks are currently taking place at the conciliation service Acas.

Mrs Hosein said: “It is our intention to meet our commitment to patient welfare during this and any subsequent periods of industrial action that come about as a results of recent ballots for strike action.

“We have therefore agreed that contingency plans will be implemented where necessary to ensure this.”