Update from BHRUT - 07 April 2020
We are continuing to make changes and adapt our measures to keep patients and staff safe as we deal with the coronavirus situation (Covid-19).
As I wrote in my update last week testing for coronavirus has now been rolled out to NHS staff. Over the weekend we tested more than 70 frontline staff, (including some people they live with) in essential services. We will be increasing capacity to carry out more tests in the coming days and weeks.
Sadly like many trusts across the country not only are we seeing an increase in the number of seriously ill patients, with suspected Covid-19 at our hospital sites. In order to manage this we are training additional clinical teams to create extra capacity and care for patients with respiratory illness as shown on BBC London last week.
We are also seeing an increase in the number of deaths of patients who have tested positive for Covid-19. Our total figure reported to date is 54. However like many other trusts, our efforts to provide an accurate picture have been hampered, in part, by the time lag between when someone has died and when tests result have returned from the lab. Now we can conduct testing here, this process should speed up.
I know many relatives and friends are worried about Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders at a time when they cannot be with their loved ones. Such decisions are made in line with guidance from the Royal College of Physicians, which reminds doctors of the importance of discussing this with individual patients and their carers, ensuring their wishes, regarding ongoing care and their decisions are clearly documented.
To ensure we continue to provide the best care for patients in our Emergency Departments, we have made a number of changes at both of our hospital sites. At King George Hospital the paediatric Emergency Department (ED) has moved to Queen’s Hospital, with a small team at King George Hospital for any walk-in patients. We have created two separate entrances and areas for patients, one for those without suspected Covid-19 and another for those with suspected Covid-19. We have also made changes at Queen’s Hospital to ensure we keep all of our patients safe.
Our Trauma team have also relocated from Queen’s Hospital (QH) to the Independent Treatment Centre, next to King George Hospital. This is part of our coordinated response in increasing capacity to care for patients with Covid-19.
Two weeks ago we made the decision to stop most of our routine outpatient appointments, to protect our patients, both with and without Covid-19. We will continue to re-arrange and postpone most face-to-face outpatient appointments until Friday 1 May. We will continue to conduct phone ‘hot clinics’ where possible for patients who need to urgently speak with a doctor, or require immediate treatment, to ensure they get the care they need.
Maternity appointments are continuing as normal. Our midwives are on-hand to provide support and we have set up a 24-hour hotline for women to call if they have any questions or concerns on 01708 503 742.
We have made changes to cancer treatments to ensure one of our most vulnerable groups of patients will continue to get the best treatment possible in the safest environment, and in line with national guidance. We have been developing a robust plan, more information of which is available on our website.
We have taken steps to protect the public and our patients and staff through changes made to blood testing venues. We have provided a list of locations where patients can currently get blood tests on our website.
I would like to say thank you again to everyone in our local communities for their kind offers of donations and support at this particularly difficult time. This is much appreciated by myself and everyone at the Trust.
Last week the NHS wrote to those people considered to be at highest clinical risk from coronavirus (Covid-19) to inform them they should stay at home at all times and avoid all face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks. A series of frequently asked questions on this process has been added to the NHS website.
Please share key updates within your networks, and remind people who think they have symptoms to read the information on the NHS 111 website.
Please also help us to share the message of how important it is for people to follow the Government’s guidelines - a plea made by our Chief Medical Officer, Magda Smith, on Radio 4’s The World This Weekend yesterday in which she explained how our hospitals have prepared to care for an increasing number of patients with Covid-19.
There is also the latest advice and guidance on the NHS and Public Health England websites.
Thank you for your continued support.