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Hospitals in Norfolk and Waveney working to treat more patients

The three hospitals in Norfolk and Waveney are working to restore some of their services, which were paused because of coronavirus.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn (QEH) have continued to treat people with life-threatening conditions such as cancer or cardiac conditions and emergency situations such as stroke or accidents.

Zones have been created to separate patients who have coronavirus symptoms from those who do not. This has meant many urgent operations or treatments have been able to proceed as normal whilst patients with severe coronavirus symptoms have been looked after in separate areas. These arrangements will continue. Many outpatient appointments, too, will continue to take place by telephone or video conference.

Now hospitals are beginning to identify patients on other waiting lists who have the most clinical need for planned operations.

  • The QEH has restarted some routine, planned orthopaedic operations and endoscopy work (the latter at QEH and North Cambridgeshire site in Wisbech)
  • The NNUH is looking to restart its Day Procedure Unit and some endoscopy by the end of May as well as continuing a record number of remote outpatient consultations.
  • The JPUH has already started to undertake some planned operations and procedures and will be looking to increase its capacity for this work in the weeks ahead.

Offering more routine hospital treatments will take time, and in line with the Government’s approach this work may need to be scaled up or down according to coronavirus infection rates and the resulting pressure on NHS services. 

Patients should still expect to wait longer than usual for non-urgent or elective procedures during this unprecedented period. Each hospital will be contacting their patients as appointments/operations are confirmed.

The NHS is encouraging people to seek medical advice if they are worried about their health, to attend clinics and appointments and not to let health conditions get worse and risk having an emergency.

One of the most important areas is to ensure that patients with cancer are seen quickly.

Dr Linda Hunter, cancer lead for the Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership, said: “People with cancer want to be seen and treated as quickly as possible and our cancer specialists have been working together to try to ensure this happens even within the extraordinary circumstances we’re all facing. Our pledge to cancer patients is that we will do all we can to see you in a timely way and give you the care you need.”

All cancer patients can access one to one telephone support from their hospital-based cancer clinical teams for advice and reassurance. They can also access support from local and national voluntary sector partners including the Big C, Macmillan and Cancer Research UK who all provide cancer information and support services.

Chris Cobb, Chief Operating Officer of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “We’d like to thank the people of Norfolk and Waveney for their ongoing support and understanding during these challenging times. Whilst emergency, urgent, and some cancer care has taken place during the pandemic, we are fully committed to getting other services safely back to normal as quickly as possible.” 

Anna Hills, Chief Executive of the James Paget University Hospital, said: “Our detailed planning will maximise flexibility and enable us to treat those patients that need it, including delivering their planned care. It will allow us to support patients safely through their care and manage any further surges of the virus in the coming months and as we move into the winter.”

Denise Smith, Chief Operating Officer at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn, said: “As always, delivering safe and compassionate care has been our number one priority. Covid-19 has seen us introduce, at pace, a host of innovations to support patient care and experience, including using video and telephone technology to hold virtual outpatient appointments. We’ve gone from holding 300 telephone consultations a week to nearly 1,300, meaning patients can access the expert care and advice of our staff without needing to leave their homes. We will be building on these innovations and staff health and wellbeing initiatives so we can continue to improve patient and staff experience.” 

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