Hospital bosses pledge to spend £40m

HEALTH chiefs have pledged to spend £40million modernising the James Paget Hospital following a long-awaited announcement that it has been awarded foundation status.

HEALTH chiefs have pledged to spend £40million modernising the James Paget Hospital following a long-awaited announcement that it has been awarded foundation status.

The prestigious status, confirmed yesterday, places the Gorleston hospital among the country's top 50 and gives it autonomy from the regional health authority, allowing it to choose its own priorities.

First on that list is gutting each 24-year-old six-bed ward one-by-one and rebuilding them as four-bed wards with modern facilities, including en-suite bathrooms.

Foundation status is only open to hospitals which consistently score the maximum three stars in league tables and are financially stable - and James Paget is the only hospital in Norfolk and Suffolk to qualify.

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Chief executive David Hill said: “We're going to build a mixture of new facilities and modernise others. There will be a new centre built on the side of the hospital for outpatient facilities.

“We'll be modernising our main patient areas within the hospital, namely the wards, outpatient clinics and theatres. The changes will give patients more space and more dignity. From now on it will be up to us to decide what benefits patients and instead of talking about it, we'll be able to get on and do it.

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“We'll be able to make the right decisions based on what the people of Yarmouth and Waveney need, and put those decisions into practice far more quickly.”

But Mr Hill said that the extra money being invested by the Government would not necessarily lead to extra staff.

“I think there's a lot of change going on in the NHS and we're working closely with our partners to make sure the right facilities are in place,” he said. “Some of these will be in the community but we don't know how that will pan out in the future. At the moment no one can make a prediction for whether there will be more or fewer staff.”

The new status also allows the hospital to choose its own treatment specialities. Mr Hill said there had been some ideas but they were in the early stages.

Hugh Sturzaker, governor and former consultant at the hospital, said: “This is one of the most meaningful decisions in the history of the JPH. We're now fully autonomous - we can raise money ourselves, make our own decisions and respond more quickly to the needs of the local population.

“It's a great deal for the local public who have supported this hospital so well over the years.”

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt said: “I'm delighted that the hospital has been granted foundation status. It's a symbol of just how good the hospital is - and the determination of its staff to continue serving this community well. It's an excellent achievement and something to be celebrated by the staff and the patients.”

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