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QEH benefits from 'learning so much' during rigours of pandemic year, says report

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If the coronavirus pandemic brought just one positive aspect to Lynn's hospital, it is that it's emerging as an even stronger and better place to serve its community.

The clear message running through the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Trust's annual report is that Covid-19 was as incredibly challenging as it was usefully insightful.

And the significant part the "unwavering support" of the local community played is acknowledged.

Ambulances outside the QEH at Kings Lynn. (43796402)
Ambulances outside the QEH at Kings Lynn. (43796402)

Facing down so many issues, having adapted successfully, was a steep but important and rewarding learning curve for the Trust.

Chairman Steve Barnett and chief executive Caroline Shaw say in the report published this week: "We have learnt so much during the pandemic and plan to continue many of the new ways of working and good practice we have adopted into the future.

"Innovations include better team working across the organisation and wider system, faster decision-making and much-needed acceleration of the digitisation of hospitals and NHS services.

"Making sure we communicate effectively, openly and honestly with staff, patients and families has also been a priority."

The report covers the period from April 2020 to March 2021, which contained the months when the Trust was most stretched by the response to Covid-19.

Approaching 500 deaths occurred from patients who had tested positive for the disease in the previous 28 days. At the height of the second wave, there were 220 inpatients - a significant proportion of the Trust's 518 beds.

Meanwhile, more than 1,700 patients were safely discharged during the year.

"We are incredibly proud of how Team QEH has pulled together and remained absolutely focused on delivering safe and compassionate care in the most challenging of circumstances, and are extremely grateful to our fantastic local community for their unwavering support," the report says.

Meanwhile, as Lynn News readers know, there is a growing call for significant investment and improvements at the hospital, if not a rebuild.

The report talks of "a compelling case" having been made during the year to modernise the site, including its estate and digital infrastructure.

Among the operational achievements, the Trust recruited 1,867 people were recruited into trials during the year, a 116 per cent increase from 2019/20. This, says the report, was driven by the number of urgent public health Covid-19 studies.

The Trust achieved five of the seven national cancer targets. The two it did not achieve were two-week wait (breast symptomatic) and 62-day referral to treatment.

Notable statistics from the year included 61,276 attendances at A&E and 1,955 babies born.

Prof Barnett and Mrs Shaw indicated that they would not be slowing up in their quest to make QEH the best rural district general hospital for patient and staff experience.

They said: "There remains much more work to do to consistently deliver safe and compassionate care to our patients and their families, and to ensure we learn from complaints and provide timely, high quality responses to people raising concerns with us about their care and experience."

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