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West Country hospitals fined millions over waiting times

Hospitals in the West have been penalised for their A&E waiting times. Credit: PA

West Country hospitals are being fined millions for failing to meet targets.

A&E waiting times and ambulance handover deadlines are among the problems which have cost Devon hospitals over £6.5m and the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, which has a £7m deficit, over a million pounds.

The nationally agreed targets are set every year by NHS England. Local clinical commissioning groups hold the hospitals to account by levying fines, reinvesting the money into schemes to improve services.

Derriford Hospital in Plymouth was charged £4.8 million, but received half back in compensation.

In 2014/15, we paid fines of £4.8m. We received £2.89m in compensation.

In recognition of the exceptional emergency pressures faced by the Trust, commissioners agreed to compensate the trust financially for a loss of income for planned operations that were unable to be undertaken and that emergency activity was costing more than the 50% of tariff paid.

NHS England required fines for performance to be applied by commissioners.

– Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

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Royal Navy training base struck by Norovirus bug

Credit: PA

Around 70 people have been struck down with the norovirus at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall.

Those affected by the vomiting bug at the training facility in Torpoint, Cornwall, have been placed in quarantine following the outbreak.

A Royal Navy spokesman said:

[The virus] started about ten days ago. It peaked towards the end of last week at about 70 and numbers fell rapidly after that.

The control measures introduced include intense cleaning and isolating those with symptoms.

– Royal Navy spokesman

Typical symptoms of the vomiting bug include the sudden onset of projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people might also experience headaches, a mild temperature and stomach cramps.

Little boy's life changed by world-class MRI technology

A 9-year-old boy from Devon has been the first patient in the region to be treated on a specialist MRI scanner for his epilepsy and a brain tumour.

The equipment makes Bristol Children's hospital among the best in the world for paediatric neurosurgery. The device will enable doctors to operate on tumours in the deepest part of the brain for the first time.

Jack's mother says the effect on her son has been life-changing:

Norovirus closes two wards at Royal Cornwall Hospital

People are asked to phone ahead before visiting Credit: ITV News

Two wards at the Royal Cornwall Hospital remain closed to new admissions due to an outbreak of Norovirus.

Patients with pre-booked appointments are being told to still turn up, but visitors to the hospital are being asked to phone wards first to check if it's ok to come in.

The hospital remains on red alert due to increased demand, but doesn't anticipate going on black alert. The hospital says that despite being busy over the weekend, average waiting times were kept down to around 30 minutes.

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Derriford Hospital spent thousands coping with black alert

Derriford Hospital spends thousands coping with black alert Credit: ITV News

Derriford Hospital spent nearly £2 million on over time and agency staff in just one month as it coped with huge demand due to its black alert status.

For the first three months of this year the Plymouth hospital declared black alert as it dealt with what it describes as "unprecedented and sustained" demand.

As people will know, we faced a significant period of unprecedented and sustained demand on our emergency and medical services, which impacted right across the hospital.

During this time, on numerous occasions, we put out internal and public appeals to our staff to ask if they would work extra shifts and offering overtime, to enable us to meet the pressures we faced and to ensure our patients continued to be well cared for. Our staff responded admirable during these difficult times.

It was also necessary for us to have a flexible temporary workforce resource during this time. We did this by redeploying staff and utilising NHS Professionals (our supplier of bank staff) and where these options were not available to us then, as an absolute last resort, we used agency staff.

– Kevin Baber, Chief Operating Officer for Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Jeremy Hunt says transforming GP services is key to NHS future

Health Minister Jeremy Hunt says transforming GP services is key to the future of the NHS.

Commenting during a visit to a pharmacy in Newquay Mr Hunt said:

The biggest single change I want to see is a transformation of services through our GP services, we want to recruit 5000 more GP's, and basically if the NHS is going to be sustainable we need to invest in prevention not cure.

We need to tackle things like diabetes before they start to get serious, before people need timely and expensive treatment at places like the Royal Cornwall.

– Jeremy Hunt
Credit: ITV News

The minister pledged an extra £8 billion a year to be pumped into the NHS by the end of the next parliament.

During his brief visit to Cornwall Mr Hunt was given a tour of Kayes Pharmacy at Narrowcliff in Newquay.

The minister is calling for pharmacies to play a greater role in the health care system to take pressure off busy A&E departments.

I saw something today which I haven't seen elsewhere in the country but I think is a sign of things to come, where they're actually able at this pharmacy to access peoples GP record.

That's very significant because it means they can come and get advice perhaps on a Saturday when the GP service was closed and they can look up what their allergies are, perhaps see they've had a stroke, and then give them much better clinical advice.

– Jeremy Hunt

Royal Cornwall Hospital comes off black alert

The Royal Cornwall Hospital has downgraded from black to red alert.

Bosses said the system remains under pressure, but the situation has improved and a decision was made to step down to red status.

A seven-day control centre in Truro remains in place where staff are continuing to create stability in the system and respond to pressures using real time information.

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