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We hear you like investigations. That’s great - because so do we.

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One in four hospital beds occupied by 'stranded' patients stuck for weeks

Every day there are fresh headlines about the many crises facing our NHS. In October we investigated the situation in the east of England and you can read the stories from our special NHS On The Brink series for Norfolk here and Suffolk here.

What we make clear in this week’s investigation is how complex and interlinked the healthcare sector’s problems are. We noticed a sharp increase in the number of patients having to wait for hours in ambulances before being admitted to hospital. In the course of investigating the story it became clear that a major cause of the problem is a lack of social care beds. With no capacity to discharge healthy elderly patients, there are too few hospital beds available for incoming patients.

Joel Adams discovered this week that a quarter of all beds in Norfolk’s biggest hospital are now being taken up by people who are effectively stranded, while a shortage of around 1,000 staff in Norfolk’s care sector means the problem does not have an easy or quick solution. The knock-on effect is massive. Last weekend, sources told us that up to 27 ambulances were queuing to unload patients at the NNUH. That means they can’t get away to their next emergency calls.

How sewage was dumped in Norfolk’s rivers 4,000 times last year

Do you remember all the fuss about sewage last week? The government faced a rebellion from some of its own MPs for not being strict enough with water companies about the amount of times sewage was being poured into our rivers, lakes and seas. That prompted our investigation at the start of this week.

We found that sewage was being poured into waterways, including nature reserves and protected rivers, in Norfolk and Suffolk. Not a single one of our rivers passed one pollution test and they are way behind targets set in 2015. But it is not all bad news. Lots of work is being done by environmentalists and landowners across the region to clean up our waterways. We’ll be giving this issue more attention in the coming weeks and holding agencies to account.

That is all for now. We hope you’re having a great weekend and we’ll have lots more for you this time next week. If you found our first newsletter interesting, please pass on to a friend. They can sign up here.