Hospitals draw up plan to cope with demand during COVID-19 outbreak

Communications TeamNews

Hull’s hospitals have drawn up a plan to deal with significant surges in demand during the COVID-19 outbreak.

COVID-19 is expected to have a major impact on Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital over the coming weeks if national forecasts prove correct and thousands of patients with the virus require hospital admission.

However, staffing levels may fall at the same time as more NHS staff fall ill or have to self-isolate in line with national recommendations.

Now, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (HUTH) has produced detailed plans of how it will keep essential services running  at the height of the outbreak in Hull and the East Riding.

Chief Operating Officer Teresa Cope said: “Members of the public should be reassured that we have been working on our Surge Plan for weeks to ensure the organisation has a robust and detailed strategy to do whatever we can to prevent our hospitals being overwhelmed by demand.

“We all know this is an unprecedented challenge for the entire NHS, not just us here in Hull and the East Riding, and there will undoubtedly be difficult times ahead.

“Although we have our plan in place and we are ready to act, the public has a major role to play in helping us all through this.

“Stay at home, follow the Government’s advice to maintain social distancing and only go outside for essential travel and we’ll be in a much stronger position to get through this and begin our recovery.”

As part of the trust’s Surge Plan

  • Testing of staff or relevant family members showing symptoms of COVID-19 is being increased to ensure frontline staff can return to work as quickly as possible
  • Routine outpatient appointments and operations have been cancelled
  • 60 per cent of all our beds to be used for positive and suspected cases, with some wards changed from their usual specialties to accept patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19
  • Specialist wards will be protected to care for patients with strokes, heart problems, brain injuries and illnesses and cancer throughout the outbreak
  • Our plans would allow us to triple our critical care capacity
  • Retired and former members of staff are being retrained and recruited
  • Extra beds and equipment have been secured from the Spire Hospital in Anlaby
  • Additional staff are being retrained and drafted in from other local NHS organisations
  • Medical, nursing and clinical staff as well as non-clinical staff will be redeployed to support key frontline services

Training is also being introduced to ensure clinical staff have the required skills to support colleagues in priority areas such as the Emergency Department, Intensive Care and Medical wards where COVID-19 patients are being cohorted.

Teresa Cope said: “Each and every member of staff at the trust will be called on to go above and beyond our normal duties in the coming weeks and months.

“Regardless of our role in this organisation, we are all essential staff and we continue to turn up for  work, day in and day out.

“We know the NHS is asking a lot of staff, to come to work when everyone else is being asked to stay at home with their families to keep safe.

“We are equally grateful for the support of health and care partners during this time including Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups, City Health Care Partnership, Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust and Yorkshire Ambulance Service. We’d also like to thank wider partners such as University of Hull, both Hull City and East Riding of Yorkshire Councils, local businesses which have been supporting us with equipment and donations for staff, care homes and GPs throughout East Yorkshire.

“By working together, we will get through this and provide the best possible care for our patients.”