Hospital services

James Paget at 40: how hospital services were developed

7:00 p.m. July 29, 2022

James Paget University Hospital was officially opened 40 years ago this month.

To celebrate this historic anniversary, we take a look at the history of the hospital and its construction.

Here we look at the commissioning of services for the new hospital.

As construction of the new hospital was underway, another team moved to the site, with a key role in ensuring patient care could begin as soon as the doors opened.

The team was led by Peter Harrison, who was the commissioning officer for both phases of Paget’s build program.

Peter led a team of five people based in the buildings of the newly completed residences, overlooking the construction site. The team’s mission was to oversee the smooth transfer of services to the Paget from other area hospitals, including the former Great Yarmouth General Hospital, Lowestoft Hospital and Northgate Hospital.

It was a major undertaking, deserving of its own front-page story in the January 1981 edition of the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Health District ‘DGH News’, one of three newsletters Peter ran.

Under the banner of “The Coastal Hospital of the 80s”, the article details how “the commissioning team worked for almost four years to achieve their goal of translating the details of the initial planning decisions into operational policies for 28 departments”.

The article reports how the commissioning team worked closely with department heads to agree policies and equipment schedules and notes that “until all decisions were made on how which every department will operate and be equipped with, it is impossible to use the hospital as an effective running unit.

A commissioning document from Peter Harrison
– Credit: JPUH

This planning included bringing together the staff who would form the new teams to run the hospital.

“There was a mix of new and old employees,” recalls Peter. “The staff came from the two hospitals in the district and further afield. They all had their different ways of working – so this had to be handled sensitively to ensure they felt comfortable and could be a team.

Peter has the original chart showing the staggering of the equipping and opening of departments at nearby hospitals in Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

Jacques Paget

A bird’s eye view of James Paget University Hospital
– Credit: JPUH

It also has the original plan detailing the location of the various booths and activities for the new hospital’s first party, held in September 1982.

The plan shows an event arena, a craft display and more than 30 booths on the back ground in the helipad area.

The party plan drawn up by Peter Harrison

The party plan drawn up by Peter Harrison
– Credit: JPUH

“Having so many people get involved in the first party was really positive,” said Peter. “It helped raise awareness of the Paget as a new community facility, gave staff something they could support and raised funds for the new social club at the same time.”

Records show the first party was indeed a success, raising over £1,500 for the social club.