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New hospital beds add vital flexibility

More than a dozen new beds have been added at Newmarket Hospital to support health services across west Suffolk.

The 14 news beds have been gradually coming on stream since building work at the Exning Road site was completed in mid-May, with more than 15 new nurses and healthcare assistants recruited to care for patients.

A new portering team has also introduced to help medical staff focus on patient care.

It brings the total number of beds on the hospital’s Rosemary Ward to 33. The beds will be used flexibly for a range of patients who do not need the more intensive levels of care available at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, the area’s main acute hospital. 

This includes patients who have tested negative for Covid-19 but still need support to recover from the virus, as well as those recovering from other conditions.

The hospital offers both in and out patients a range of clinics and testing facilities, including X-rays and blood tests, reducing the need to travel across the county. Community nurses are also based at the site, as is the Oakfield Surgery GP practice. 

Ward manager Helen Ballam said: “The work to create the ward was really impressive. An area that was just offices and storage has been transformed in just a few weeks, and we have nearly doubled the number of beds and the nursing staff.

“Patients do really well with us and it is a great place to recover. It is not as busy an environment as an acute hospital, and patients often know the GPs and community nurses which helps both us and them with their care.”

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Dr Stephen Dunn said: “This investment at Newmarket really shows the benefit of our community and hospital teams working together.

“We can provide more local care, which is great for patients, and it gives us additional flexibility in how we deliver healthcare across the area, which is particularly important when dealing with an emergency situation like the Covid-19 pandemic.

”Teams across the trust have worked hard together to open the new beds quickly, and they will be extremely valuable going in to winter and a likely second wave of the pandemic.”

Secretary of state for health and social care and MP for west Suffolk Matt Hancock said: "I am thrilled we are expanding Newmarket Hospital. When I became MP a decade ago, all the talk was about stopping the hospital from shrinking. Now I’m so proud we’re seeing it grow so our local hospital will be there for the long term.  

“I have seen first-hand the fantastic work that goes on at Newmarket Hospital and it is wonderful to have these additional beds available to treat local residents and support the wider NHS, particularly at this difficult time as we continue to fight Covid.  

"The way Newmarket has brought together hospital treatment, community services, and GP care for the benefit of patients and the community is really positive and I am so glad to see it expanding. I want to say a huge thanks to the whole team who are helping make this happen.”

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Newmarket Hospital's Rosemary Ward manager Helen Ballam

Newmarket Hospital's Rosemary Ward manager Helen Ballam