New wards, extra intensive care capacity and more scientists are just some of the measures being put in place by Hull’s hospitals to cope with Covid-19 over winter.
Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is reassuring the public that full plans are in place at both Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital to cope with a second wave of the virus.
Since September, trust staff have seen an increase in the number of patients testing positive for Covid-19 once more and 53 patients confirmed with the virus, around double last week’s cases, are currently receiving care in the hospitals, including eight in its Intensive Care Units.
Now, Chief Operating Officer Teresa Cope is outlining the measures being taken to ensure anyone requiring hospital treatment for the virus will receive the best possible care.
She said: “We are ready to deal with this second wave, just as we were ready to deal with the first back in March.
“Since we received and treated the first two cases of Covid-19 in the country back in January, our dedicated and committed staff have built up vast knowledge, skills and expertise to help those who experience severe cases of the virus and need to come to hospital.
“If cases continue to rise and as the public would expect us to do, we will reconsider additional measures to keep our staff, patients and the general public safe. This could mean the reintroduction of restrictions on visiting and permitting only people who genuinely need to be here to enter any of our buildings. We will only do this when it becomes absolutely necessary to protect the public and we thank people in advance for their understanding.
“We will keep doing the best for the people of Hull and the East Riding as the world continues to deal with the pandemic.”
Although hundreds of people have recovered from the virus and have been well enough to go home, Covid-19 has now claimed the lives of 229 patients at Hull’s Hospitals since March, including two members of the trust’s own staff Adrian Cruttenden and Richzeal Albufera.
Mrs Cope said: “Adrian and Rich were a massive loss to the organisation and they, their families and the families of all the people who have lost their lives to this dreadful disease remain at the forefront of our minds as we prepare for the days, weeks and months ahead.
“But I must pay tribute to our magnificent staff and their response to the pandemic. They have worked so hard since we were first called on to deal with this virus in January and continue to give their all every single day. To each and every single member of staff, from our clinical staff, scientists and porters to our catering staff, admin teams and estates workers, I give my heartfelt thanks.
“You are remarkable people doing outstanding jobs and we are very lucky to have you.”
Three new wards have been built at the back of the tower block at Hull Royal Infirmary and will start assessing and treating patients with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 over the next few weeks once all building work has been completed.
Additional scientists are being recruited to the Pathology service to help process the huge numbers of tests undertaken every day at both hospitals. Additional equipment and more rapid tests are being introduced to support swift diagnosis, enabling patients with the virus to be isolated and treated in Covid-secure areas.
Teams working in the trust’s Supplies Department continue to work night and day to provide enough PPE for frontline staff and staff redeployment rotas have been drawn up so clinical teams of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals can move to “hot spots” if required.
A “surge plan” has been prepared to outline which wards will halt their normal service and start accepting patients with Covid-19 if numbers increase in line with the first wave in March and April, when the number of patients with the virus peaked at around 110 on a single day.
Despite extensive planning, which began in July in anticipation of a second wave, both hospitals will try to protect services for those people waiting for treatment.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Makani Purva said: “During the first wave, we had to cancel thousands of appointments and routine surgery. This time round, we will endeavor to protect and continue as many services as possible.
“We know too many people are having to wait far too long for treatment because of the unprecedented pressures on the NHS this year and we would like to thank every one of those people for their patience and understanding.
“We will do everything in our power to see as many patients as we can despite any additional pressures we are facing.”
Professor Russell Patmore appealed to anyone in need of urgent or emergency treatment to continue to seek help from their GP, attend one of the four Urgent Treatment Centres in Hull, Beverley, Bridlington or Goole or come to Hull’s Emergency Department in genuine emergencies.
He said: “We are here to help you and we have steps in place to keep you safe. People in genuine need of medical treatment are not a burden to the NHS – it’s what we’re here for, whether we’re dealing with a pandemic or not.
“A swift diagnosis can be life-saving so it is important that you get anything of concern checked out as quickly as possible.
“We are here for those who need us and that will never change.”