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Dirty rivers, a spooky stately home and hospital’s ‘extreme measures’

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What we found when we tested the Wensum for excrement

In October, we reported how untreated sewage was being dumped into the region’s waterways thousands of times.

Just before Christmas we decided to test the waters of the Wensum for ourselves to find out just how dirty it was. Hundreds of people paddleboard, sail, fish and even swim on the river.

We sent a sample, which we took near Carrow Bridge in Norwich, to a lab for testing.

Scientists discovered high levels of bacteria found in human and animal excrement. The levels of bacteria, such as E.Coli, were far higher than what is deemed safe to swim in.

The biggest causes of pollution in our rivers, according to the Environment Agency, are water companies discharging untreated sewage as well as farming. With little legislation protecting our rivers, it is now down to water firms and farmers to clean up the rivers – and the more pressure we can put on them the better.

What next for derelict Shrubland Hall?

Also before Christmas, reporter Sarah Burgess had a snoop around what was once one of Suffolk’s grandest stately homes. In recent years, however, Shrubland Hall has fallen into disrepair and in November was placed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register.

Over the years several plans have been floated, including turning it into a Hilton or wedding venue, but Sarah found it in a sad state. The owner, however, remains elusive and has not responded to our multiple attempts to contact him.

Hospital takes ‘extreme measures’

The NHS is never far from the headlines, especially over winter when it has to get through its busiest time of year.

Locally the system is in crisis and declared a “critical incident” last week. That means it cannot cope with current demand and patient safety is at risk. It also allows NHS bosses to take steps they wouldn’t normally do to cope.

One of those steps has been to squeeze more patients into already full bed bays. At the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) curtains between patient beds have been removed to make room for more beds. It means there are only 90 centimetres between beds and as our photo shows, no privacy for patients.

The hospital admitted it was “far from ideal” but said it had to take “extreme measures” to meet “unprecedented demand”. We are used to the NHS being in crisis now, but this is not normal.

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 are finding our newsletter interesting, please pass on to a friend. They can sign up here and do get in touch with any comments or issues you would like us to look at.