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Impressed on my visit to the QEH

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Deadlines focus the mind.

Certainly, there was a sense of controlled urgency from the construction team working to complete the new outpatient unit at QEH on Friday ahead of its opening in the new year.

Named after Chrissie Emerson who very sadly died of Covid in 2020, this unit will bring together a range of outpatient services, including urology, pain service, rheumatology, gynaecology, antenatal care, obstetric ultrasound, and a day assessment unit for pregnant women.

An artists' impression of the planned Endoscopy Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (53535655)
An artists' impression of the planned Endoscopy Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (53535655)

It is being funded as part of the £20.6 million emergency capital investment provided by the Department of Health to improve the facilities.

As well as the new outpatient unit, groundworks for the new £12.5 million endoscopy unit are underway.

This new unit will modernise facilities for patients and QEH staff and create decent space needed to enable QEH to make space for movement of wards and work to instal failsafe roof supports where necessary to deal with the concrete plank issues.

It is welcome that the borough council’s planning committee has now approved the application and on current plans the new unit is set to open next spring.

During my visit it was also announced the QEH is getting a further £3 million to create a new West Norfolk eye centre.

This national funding will allow the development of a dedicated ophthalmology outpatient facility within the Emerson Unit and is part of plans to return elective care services to pre-pandemic levels.

Having a new bigger facility and through a combination of design and more efficient ways of working more patients will receive treatment more quickly.

QEH estimates that once it opens next spring the increased capacity will mean that there will be an additional 2,000 appointments every year.

This investment in modernising the hospital is very welcome and will improve the care for patients, their families, and staff.

However, the need for major investment in a new hospital is clear and the campaign continues with decisions on the first phase of the selection for the next eight schemes expected early in the new year.

At the time of my visit there were 17 patients who had been admitted with Covid.

On average between 15 and 25 patients with suspected Covid-19 are presenting daily to QEH with half of these confirmed cases and on average half are being admitted.

I talked to the domestic services team who shared their experiences of infection control and keeping the hospital going during Covid.

They were highly motivated and dedicated to helping ensure patients receive good care in a safe setting as were the team of porters who literally keep the hospital and patients moving.

Capacity across the hospital is high and as part of its winter plan QEH has included steps to safely reduce length of stays and support patients to be discharged from the hospital.

The message remains the same.

Vaccines are our first line of defence so please take up the offer of your booster to give you the best protection from the virus.

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