Hospital remains on high alert

THE James Paget University Hospital yesterday (Thursday) remained on its highest state of alert as it continued to deal with an influx of patients.

The hospital at Gorleston has been on black alert since New Year's Eve and has had to cancel some scheduled operations because of a shortage of beds.

A hospital spokesman said: 'Demand remains much higher than expected for this time of year, and the continuing black alert status reflects this.

'The alert is due to the full range of pressures that all hospitals come under at this time of year as we deal with an increase in health problems associated with the colder weather.'

To help the hospital cope in the unusually hectic spell, officials are asking people not to head automatically to the James Paget casualty department for treatment for minor injuries but to consider other options, such as their GP.

Meanwhile, a new round-the-clock health helpline has been launched for patients in the Great Yarmouth and Waveney district to further ease the pressure on the James Paget's busy accident and emergency (A&E ) team.

Under the pilot project, running until July, people who have a non-urgent health problem can call the helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week to obtain help, guidance and to find the best place for treatment.

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The helpline has been set up to advise patients and carers of the healthcare options available to them in such circumstances.

Jamie Wyllie, medical director of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, said: 'Many people don't realise it but there are more options available than A&E for urgent care needs.

'The call handlers will be able to offer help and guidance as well as tell the patient or carer where they could be looked after best.'

The helpline number is 0844 736 9530.