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James Paget University Hospital deals with pressure during winter

PUBLISHED: 08:57 10 February 2015 | UPDATED: 08:57 10 February 2015

Christine Allen, chief executive of the James Paget University Hospital.

Christine Allen, chief executive of the James Paget University Hospital.

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A hospital faced "extreme pressures" as a result of increased demand for accident and emergency services over the Christmas and New Year period combined with an outbreak of the norovirus, its chief executive has revealed.

Director of Nursing Liz Libiszewski, James Paget University HospitalDirector of Nursing Liz Libiszewski, James Paget University Hospital

Christine Allen told the James Paget University Hospital’s latest board of directors meeting that staff had done a “phenomenal job” in coping with the increase in emergency demand, which meant the hospital did not achieve the urgent care standard for December - for the first time last year.

However, it did achieve the standard for the quarter.

Ms Allen said: “While the targets are of course important, our priority is our patients, their safety and the quality of the care we provide to them.”

Andrew Palmer, associate director of performance and planning, said the “sustained level of pressure” would see the trust come “very close” to hitting a 70,000 attendance for the first time. He cited a year-on-year increase in ambulance arrivals of 14 per cent, and a further year-on-year increase of 9.12 per cent in demand for A&E.

A delay in nurses being recruited from abroad to work at the hospital was also discussed at the meeting last Friday, January 30, with the hospital looking abroad to fill vacancies because of a shortage of nurses in the UK.

However now the trust faces further challenges as last October, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) revised the process for registering non-EU nurses.

Liz Libiszewski, director of nursing, quality and patient experience, said: “Of the 25 European nurses who joined the trust in mid-October, not all have obtained their NMC registration.

“We have been overseas in the past fortnight, to Portugal and to the Philippines, to recruit non-EU members of staff - but the delays in registration mean it will be at least four months before these nurses are in the UK and able to practise.”

Ms Allen said that as the trust faced “a significant challenge” and that these issues had been raised with the chief executive of the NMC.

JPH board of directors chairman David Wright said: “Our priority is giving proper care. If we are being prevented from doing that through a bureaucratic issue, we will call on Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis to support us and help shortcut the bureaucratic part of it to get good quality nurses on the ground.”

Deputy chairman Peter Franzen added: “It’s a sad state of affairs that hospitals around the country are having to pillage overseas for nurses – it does not add up when we are doing everything we can to employ locally.”

Mrs Libiszewski said that across the east of England there will be “more nurses – an additional 120 – going through training this year”, but it was felt this was “a drop in the ocean” of what was needed for hospitals in the area.

WHAT ELSE WAS DISCUSSED AT THE MEETING?

With key priorities for 2015/16 outlined, along with the approval of the latest Care Quality Commission application, an update on Lowestoft Hospital was also given.

Mark Flynn, director of finance, said “the future use of the site” had been discussed with partners and the public will be updated soon.

At a board meeting last year, a series of recommendations and improvements were put forward to try and lower the number of falls, as bosses at the James Paget took action to tackle the problem of patients falling over and injuring themselves in wards. The latest figures showed that in December, there were no falls reported at all. Dr David Ellis, non-executive director, said this was important to note given the numbers of incidents recorded in October and November.

Last month, 14 complaints were received by the trust. During November and December the recording of compliments – either verbal, written or gifts – was reintroduced at the hospital, with 431 compliments recorded for out-patient areas and 512 for inpatient areas.

A total of 190 compliments were also sent direct to the trust between April and December last year.

The issue of bed blocking and transfer of care was discussed. Mr Franzen said: “My understanding is that there are very few community beds out there and clearly there is an issue with step down beds in the community.” Ms Allen said that discussions with community partners and the CCG had been held, and the board would be updated.

A group of year six students from the North Denes Junior School in Great Yarmouth were presented with certificates at last Friday’s meeting after a takeover day was hailed a success.

Last November six pupils from the school in Jellicoe Road, Yarmouth “took over” the workplace at the JPH, and “seeing things from a child’s perspective” three films were made during their visit, which were shown to the board.

The three different scenarios highlighted what happens when you go to hospital for treatment – with focus on a blood test, going into theatre for an operation and having a CT Scan.

The youngsters told the board about their experiences during last year’s children’s takeover day, before they were thanked by the board and presented with certificates by Ms Allen.

Chairman, David Wright, said: “It is a very, very good film and you obviously enjoyed it. Its very important that we have young people come and tell us what it is like – and thank you for showing us the film, it is absolutely fantastic.”

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