A campaign has been launched to ensure pensioners are vaccinated against pneumonia in a bid to ease the pressures faced by Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital this winter.
West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is calling on people aged over 65 to have the pneumococcal injection along with the flu jab this winter in a bid to prevent bed blocking at the hospital.
Last year high numbers of older people suffering from respiratory problems and pneumonia were seen at the QEH, which reached capacity on several occasions.
Now health chiefs are bracing for a busy winter with extra beds and vaccinations.
CCG chairman Dr Ian Mack said: “We have a lot of preparation work in place but winter is always challenging and there will continue to be times when pressures are significant and what we have tried is working as a system is to administer these challenges when they occur.”
The CCG has received an additional £1.2 million from the NHS to help meet the winter pressures.
The group has commissioned extra beds in care homes which will be used to help increase the flow of beds in the QEH.
An additional 16 community beds in care homes will be used for patients who still require treatment but are not well enough to go home.
The virtual ward, which sees acute nursing teams treating people in their own homes, will also be used.
Dr Mack said: “We are very aware that we have to make sure that we have the right beds to meet people’s needs in the community.”
While the hospital has created an additional 12 beds on the Marham ward to ease the winter pressures.
These beds have already been in use.
Hospital chief-executive Dorothy Hosein said: “When we have the tight patches, our time to recover is much shorter than it used to be.
“We have worked on this right through the spring and looked at the data from last year to see what is required and when. The system reaction is really important.”
The A&E department has achieved the 95 per cent target of seeing patients within four hours for two quarters.
Other improvements at the hospital include the introduction of the e-discharge system which allows patients notes to be securely emailed to their GP.
The introduction of the midwifery-led birthing unit is on course for completion in November and it is hoped to have the new breast Screening unit open in April.