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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 15:52 GMT
Cash for ailing hospital
Aerial view of hospital
The hospital was built with 230m of private investment
The government is offering more money to a two-month-old Norfolk hospital to help solve its bed crisis.

The announcement follows a plea from a Labour MP for intervention to save the reputation of the 230m hospital, built under the government's private finance initiative.

Dr Ian Gibson, MP for Norwich North, said the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has already had to cancel some operations because of the crisis.

The offer of 200,000 to help relieve the bed crisis comes after Dr Gibson met the Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, and the hospital's chief executive, Malcolm Stamp, on Wednesday.

Surge in admissions

Dr Gibson said: "I am very pleased that we at last have a way forward.

"It's not a perfect solution, nothing ever is, but at least it is a move in the right direction."

The hospital was hit by staff sickness and a surge in admissions soon after it opened.

Neil Wilson of the Norfolk Health Authority has defended the hospital, saying the move to Colney near Norwich from the hospital's old site is not complete yet.

A nurse at Norfolk and Norwich hospital
Admissions have increased over last year

Mr Wilson said: "We have another 144 beds to arrive at this site.

"I am confident if we work together we will have sufficient beds, provided the demand doesn't increase much more."

Mr Stamp said the surge in admissions had put a lot of pressure on the supply of beds.

"We have got a very large increase in the number of patients for this time of year, it is up about 26% on the same period last year.

"We are having to get all our different agencies working much tighter together to deal with all the sick people."

There are also negotiations to have private health providers at a BUPA hospital in Norwich to offer some bed space to alleviate the problem.

But that probably will not happen until next month at the earliest.

"January is looking very difficult for us as we are incredibly busy, but possibly in February and March we will have some excess capacity and will do some work with them," BUPA spokesman Neil McCullough said.

Click here to go to Norfolk
See also:

07 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
Virus heightens beds crisis
04 Jan 02 | England
Cash is cure for bed blocking
30 Jul 01 | Health
Failings at first PFI hospital
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