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|Extra beds for patients in the East of England are being created in Norfolk to help in the fight against coronavirus.
This facility, known as a ‘regional surge centre’, will make many more beds available for the sickest patients with coronavirus.
The regional surge centre will be based at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Like all acute hospitals across the country, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital already has its own plans in place to expand critical care capacity to meet potential surges in demand for local patients with coronavirus needing this level of care. The regional surge centre will create extra capacity on top of this, and will be able to take in patients from across the entire East of England region.
A second Emergency Department opened earlier this month at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in response to coronavirus, with construction underway also on a new isolation unit. This expansion has allowed the regional surge centre to be based within the Trust’s existing estate and will make use of the new ward block and its facilities.
Normally, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has 36 ventilated beds, which are used to treat the most critically ill patients. Along with all hospitals, it has plans in place to open further beds to meet local coronavirus needs – at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, this is a further 60 beds. However, as part of its role as a regional surge centre, the Trust has put in place plans to open a further 170 beds on top of that, in phases, if the need arises.
This extra facility means that capacity still exists in local hospitals to care for patients with coronavirus, as well as other patients who may need urgent and emergency treatment, with the regional surge centre ready to support services if needed.
Ann Radmore, regional director for the NHS in the East of England, said: “As the NHS faces the greatest health challenge in its history, we’re supporting patients and staff with additional capacity in the region.
“This regional surge centre will provide backup and support for NHS hospitals in the region and will ensure patients needing specialist care can get the support they need.”
Sam Higginson, chief executive of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The regional surge centre based at our hospital will play a crucial role in the East of England’s response to coronavirus, and is ready to take patients if needed from across the region.
“However, our ambition has to be to continue to stay at home to cut infections and save lives – so that the need to actually use this facility is as limited as possible.”
The regional surge centre can be used and adapted depending on demand, to ensure there is the right capacity at the right time for the best care for patients. For example, depending on need, the surge centre could be used for patients with coronavirus symptoms, the rehabilitation for coronavirus patients, or to provide a reduced-risk environment for non-coronavirus patients who still need essential care.
The regional surge centre will draw on existing NHS staff, as well as those returning staff and training clinicians.
This is the first regional surge centre to become operational in the East of England, with plans for a second site at a different location in the region currently being developed.