Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been awarded £3.9 million to overhaul its accident and emergency department following critical reports.
The hospital made a successful bid to central Government for the cash to redesign the emergency department to create additional treatment areas and invest in support services to ease the strain on it.
Darren Barber, the hospital’s UNISON branch secretary, said: “I believe that in awarding this funding the Government has admitted it should have been funding this for the last two years and if it had been the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) would have been on a very different financial footing.”
The QEH has recently come under fire from regulator Monitor for failing to meet targets on waiting times in accident and emergency (A&E).
The hospital has also been criticised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which said it was not meeting some standards of quality and safety .
David Stonehouse, director of resources at the hospital, said: “This additional £3.9 million of funding comes as a direct result of a joint bid by the trust and our commissioners at West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group and is both timely and extremely welcome.
“It is a reflection of our urgent need to tackle pressure on hospital in-patient services – particularly during winter.”
Investment will be made into recruiting extra senior staff and provide an ambulance transfer area to help meet hand-over target times.
Money will also be spent on home-based nursing care for patients who do not need to be in hospital.”
The new funding was announced by the Department of Health as part of a £250 million award to hospitals across the country to ease the pressure on A&E departments.
Jeremy Hunt, health secretary, said fundamental changes were needed to reduced pressure on A&E services by providing routes for people to get care elsewhere when possible.
One issue is the number of older people who end up in A&E simply because they cannot get care and support elsewhere.
Mr Hunt said: “This is a serious long-term problem, which needs fundamental changes to equip our A&Es for the future.”
Mike Farrar, NHS confederation chief executive, said: “A&E is often seen as the NHS safety net, but that net is now stretched so tight it can’t cope much longer.”
He called for a public campaign reminding people of the full range of healthcare options available to them to prevent unnecessary A&E use.