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N&N patient put up in hotel after operation cancelled

PUBLISHED: 07:56 21 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:48 06 July 2010

Health bosses last night reassured patients that they are fully prepared to cope with patient demand this winter, despite a man being sent to a hotel overnight because his operation was cancelled.

Health bosses last night reassured patients that they are fully prepared to cope with patient demand this winter, despite a man being sent to a hotel overnight because his operation was cancelled.

Fears of mounting pressure were raised after it emerged the man had travelled from Wisbech for an operation at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Monday but was told there was not enough room.

Hospital bosses said due to a “busy day” only emergency operations were being carried out but insisted putting some one up in a hotel was a “one off” and was not likely to be repeated again.

An N&N spokesman said: “This is the first time we have had to make this type of arrangement. We had an influx of emergency patients and this particular patient had made a long journey to stay overnight prior to surgery. Many hospitals have hotel-style accommodation on site for patients who do not need immediate treatment or for relatives visiting from a distance. We have had to use a local hotel in this instance as one-off arrangement.”

The man was returned to the hospital yesterday morning and has since had his operation.

The N&N is currently on red - their second highest alert status - which indicates the hospital is busy but not at “maximum pressure” which it is when it is on black alert.

As reported in March nearly 400 operations were cancelled at the N&N with a rise in bed blocking, a surge in emergencies and the long running lack of beds combining to cause huge problems.

At the start of the year patients were also regularly cared for in treatment rooms which are not designed for the purpose with bed blocking peaking at 980 beds.

Emergency admissions have also steadily increased over the past year but last month health and social care services announced a winter plan which ensures services can sufficiently respond to changes in pressure.

According to health bosses the improvements will make a patient's experience better, reduce delayed transfers of care and use acute facilities more effectively.

A capacity planning group will meet on a fortnightly basis throughout the winter to monitor the operation of the system and predict and react to pressure points before they occur.

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary and North Norfolk MP, said: “I can see, given the circumstances of this case, that the hospital probably did the right thing, because to send him all the way back to Wisbech, on top of the trauma of having an operation cancelled, would have been intolerable.

“But this just demonstrates that the hospital is under impossible strain. There have been significant numbers of operations cancelled and it is a system under too much strain.”

Mr Lamb said the hospital needed more beds and added the increased reliance on care at home created a scenario where cuts to those services could lead to increased numbers of people with chronic conditions ending up as emergency cases, heaping further pressure on the N&N.

Do you have a health story for the Evening News? Call Sarah Hall on 01603 772426 or email sarah.hall2@archant.co.uk

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