Hospital patients in Norfolk will be moved to a hotel to free up bed space as the NHS faces extreme pressure.
Up to 15 patients will be moved to the hotel in Norwich in a three month pilot scheme, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group has confirmed.
Patients are expected to move there within weeks.
The scheme will only include people who are healthy enough to leave hospital, but may still require care before they can go home.
This comes as the area’s health system declared a critical incident on 5 January as it struggled for bed space.
Chief Nurse Cathy Byford says the system is under “enormous pressure” despite staff “working tirelessly to ensure that people get the medical help they need as quickly and as safely as possible”.
She added that using hotels for extra capacity had been “used successfully in other regions”.
Patients at the hotel will be looked after by Abicare, a care provider with experience of delivering similar services in England.
Its managing director, Anne-Marie Perry, said staff are “keen to help” relieve current pressures on the health system.
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“Care hotels are an excellent example of a proactive short-term solution that can be readily set up as they are needed, utilising resources that exist within the community,” she added.
The scheme will not include people who have tested positive for coronavirus, or anyone with symptoms.
Similar methods have been used in other parts of England.
A hotel in Plymouth saw 30 patients moved into its rooms in December 2021 to relieve pressure on hospitals.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the Commons this month that he has “looked at every available route to secure the maximum capacity possible across the NHS”.
This includes creating virtual wards, using beds in hotels and hospices, setting up new Nightingale “surge hubs” within hospital grounds, and making use of the private sector.