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King's Lynn hospital 'facing four times more flu cases than last year', says boss




Hospital staff in Lynn have seen four times as many cases of flu so far this winter, according to a new report.

The scale of the challenge facing staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was revealed in documents published ahead of a board meeting tomorrow morning.

And its chief executive has paid tribute to workers who she said were going “above and beyond” to cope with the pressures.

The main entrance to Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital(28252833)
The main entrance to Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital(28252833)

A report to the board by chief executive Caroline Shaw revealed that emergency attendances at the hospital were up nine per cent in December, compared with the same month in 2018.

Emergency admissions were also up by four per cent year on year.

And the report continued: “We have seen four times more cases of flu this year versus last, with flu-related bed closures adding to our challenges.”

Caroline Shaw, chief executive of Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Photo: Joshua Yates (16134287)
Caroline Shaw, chief executive of Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Photo: Joshua Yates (16134287)

The revelation comes little more than a month after bosses appealed for people to stay away from the hospital because of high demand.

Mrs Shaw has again apologised to patients and families who faced long waits for treatment, as data showed that nearly three in 10 had to wait longer than the four-hour target time to be seen in December.

But there was an improvement in the number of patients being handed over from ambulance crews to hospital staff within 15 minutes from 43.39 per cent to 45.83 per cent.

And Mrs Shaw said she had been “so impressed” with how staff pulled together to work through the demand.

She wrote: “I would like to express my appreciation to the very many colleagues and teams who have gone above and beyond what can reasonably be expected over the last month; remaining absolutely focused on the delivery of safe care despite the very pressured and challenging circumstances in which we have been working.

“There is already much learning from winter, which we are capturing as we go by listening to our staff ahead of a wider debrief in the months to come.

“We don’t underestimate the impact and toll winter has had on our staff, whom we have sought to strengthen our support for, during our most challenging months of the year.”

The rising demand for care, and extra investment, at the QEH has been a major political issue amid warnings that the Gayton Road site is in need of substantial redevelopment.

Mrs Shaw also thanked the newly-elected North West Norfolk MP, James Wild, for his support of their bid for funding towards “modernisation” of the estate.

Mr Wild recently met managers and staff during a visit to the hospital and pledged his backing for them during his maiden speech in the Commons.

But he also warned that the building’s “age is showing” and more work was needed to ensure it could meet the challenges of 21st century healthcare.

He added: “In this decade of renewal—with the infrastructure plan and the biggest cash investment in the NHS — I spy an opportunity not just to fix the roof, but to do more.”


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