Extra beds and £6.2m to ease winter pressures in NHS ‘resilience’ plan

Ambulances queueing outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Picture: Chris Bishop

Ambulances queueing outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

Norfolk health bosses have unveiled their plans to cope with winter pressures, with extra beds and more than £6m of funding in readiness for seasonal demand.

A winter fund of £2m has been allocated from local health budgets to help the NHS cope with increased capacity, while adult social services has received a £4.1m winter pressures grant.

And extra beds and staff have been made available across the region's mental health trust, to "mitigate the impact and to reduce the time patients spend in emergency departments".

But resilience planning has shifted to a year round approach, with pressures increasing at other times of the year, despite the demand on the health services exacerbated in the winter.

READ MORE: Norfolk's NHS reveals plan to avoid winter crisis of last year

At a meeting of Norfolk County Council's health and wellbeing board on Wednesday, October 30, James Bullion, executive director of adult social care, told board members the health service's approach would focus on keeping and supporting people at home, preventative health care in the community and hitting two-hour crisis response targets.

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Over the past two financial years, demand on the health service rose in areas including a 10.4pc rise in January ambulance call outs and a 4.7pc increase in emergency hospital admissions in Norfolk and Waveney.

But walk-in centre attendance dropped by almost 10pc over the same period.

All of Norfolk's acute hospitals failed to meet the four hour A&E waiting time target, and care homes, home care providers and mental health capacity struggled to cope with the winter demands.

And measures to boost the health service's capacity this winter will include:

- 16 extra acute adult beds in Hellesdon Hospital's Yare Ward

- Improving admission avoidance and faster discharges

- And social services funding for additional care packages, extra staff and mental health capacity

And speaking after the meeting, board chairman Bill Borrett said: "The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) was full all throughout August.

"It's more about resilience than it is just about winter. Winter is highlighting it."

He added: "I'm very glad that for pretty much the first time the whole system has one plan. We're now working together so much better - that shows we've made an improvement since last year."

READ MORE: Norfolk to get £4.2m to ease the pressure on hospitals this winter