Son's concern as Covid hospital patient, 85, moved seven times in two weeks
- Credit: PA
The enormous pressure still being placed on staff at a Norfolk hospital has been highlighted by the son of a coronavirus patient who was moved around seven times in the space of two weeks.
The man, who does not want to be named while his mother remains in the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, said he was “shocked” at the manner in which the 85-year-old was being “moved from ward to ward” while suffering from coronavirus.
He explained his mother was even at one stage discharged from the JPUH to a Suffolk care home along with another patient - only to be turned around and driven back to Gorleston late at night when staff said they had no record of the booking and refused her entry.
A spokesperson for the hospital said it had received the family’s complaint and was investigating.
With Covid patients occupying around a third of beds at the hospital, chief operating officer Joanne Segasby explained the situation was much worse than that seen during the first wave.
She said: "The JPH is very busy with both Covid and non-Covid patients, and staff across the hospital are working incredibly hard to treat our patients and make sure the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out is carried out as quickly as possible.
“We have seen many more Covid-positive patients in the hospital in December and January than we saw at the April peak, and our teams have stepped up to the challenges this has presented as well as organising the vaccination of thousands of people in Great Yarmouth and Waveney.
“Many staff have moved into new roles to support their colleagues and we are grateful to all our staff for their ongoing work."
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In response letter from the hospital to the complainant, they said they were "sorry to hear of his concerns" regarding his mother's treatment.
The man said: “Although my mother was admitted with suspected Covid, which the paramedics said was to fast-track her through A&E, we called the ambulance in the first place because she couldn't walk without collapsing due to severe pain in her legs.
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“She didn’t have coronavirus symptoms before.”
He added: “I'm scared for her health, but I'm honestly more worried about the sheer number of people she’s come into contact with during her many transfers.
“The constant moving is exhausting for her, and it’s putting other people at risk.”
The frequent transfers also led to administrative errors, he claims, which left his mother in unbearable pain the night she returned from Suffolk.
“She relies on pain relief medication because she has violent spasms in her legs related to her arthritis," he said.
“But when she was brought back from Suffolk, she was taken straight to a ward without going through A&E and being re-registered.
“This meant she didn’t receive her medication or a proper meal until late next morning. It's chaotic."
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said it would be inappropriate to comment on this specific case, but that it "couldn't be stressed enough" how much Covid-19 was stretching NHS resources.
He said: "The JPH and other hospitals are currently under huge pressure. They need all of us to help them by following the rules.
"I know it's difficult, but this is the only way to bring infection levels down and reduce pressure on the NHS."
At the JPUH, the number of Covid patients dropped from 146 on January 12 to 126 a week later. But despite the fall, the hospital is operating at close to capacity, with 96pc of all beds occupied, and just one in 12 critical care beds currently available.
Since the week the national lockdown began, on January 4, infections have fallen by 10pc across Norfolk and in Suffolk - but Dr Louise Smith stressed that the peak in coronavirus deaths is "yet to come".
The man claims the timeline of events were as follows:
- January 4: His mother is admitted to the JPH Covid-19 A&E department with suspected coronavirus and issues related to arthritis.
- January 5: She is transferred to the Emergency Assessment and Discharge Unit where she is treated for a non Covid-related illness.
- January 7: She is transferred to a hospital ward, where she is treated for a non Covid-related illness.
- January 10: She is transferred again after testing positive for Covid and the current ward has to be deep-cleaned.
- January 12: She is transferred again after her current ward is cleared for a deep-clean.
- January 14: She is transferred again, after that ward too has to be deep-cleaned.
- January 18: She is discharged from the JPH at 6pm to a care home near Ipswich.
- Also January 18: She returns to a JPH hospital ward at 10pm after the discharge fails.
- January 22: She is transferred again after her current ward needs a deep-clean.