Hull’s hospitals unveils plan to cope with winter pressures

Communications TeamNews

Extra nurses, doctors and porters, an additional ward and increased capacity for tests in hospital labs are among a £1m package of measures to prepare Hull’s hospitals for winter.

Hull University Teaching Hospitals is introducing additional measures to ensure Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital are best equipped to cope with an anticipated surge in admissions of patients with Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses such as flu and RSV.

Winter measures include

  • extra emergency nursing staff
  • extended operating hours for hospital labs to increase testing capacity
  • a Winter Ward dedicated for seasonal viruses
  • additional consultants and medical registrars
  • extra porters to move patients from the Emergency Department to hospital wards

HUTH is also spending almost £300,000 on “Point of Care Testing” so patients are tested for Covid-19, flu and RSV shortly after they are admitted to hospital to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Michelle Cady, Director of Strategy and Planning, chairs the trust’s Covid-19 and Winter Command Response Group and said senior staff have been working on winter preparations for months.

She said: “This winter is predicted to be very challenging because of the impact not just of the usual winter pressures but because of the continuing prevalence of Covid-19.

“The pressure on our staff and services has only intensified for every week of the pandemic and it’s now almost 22 months since we treated the UK’s first two cases of patients with the virus in January 2020.

“We’re seeing more people attending our Emergency Department than ever before and we’re also working hard to reduce our waiting lists hit hard by the impact of the pandemic.

“People needing help should also come forward through 111 online so that NHS staff can help patients with the best option for their care. It remains as important as ever to get your life-saving Covid jab, and with winter approaching, your flu jab too.”

As well as preparing for the trust’s fourth surge of Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses, hospital staff are also planning for adverse weather like snow, freezing temperatures and ice.

Special measures are also being put in place to support frontline staff, who have faced unrelenting pressure for almost two years, including one-to-one counselling, psychological support and a range of after-work activities to help staff unwind such as yoga, walking groups and drama classes.