The next stages in a major Covid-19 action plan aimed at ensuring local patients, staff and communities are guaranteed first-class health care and support have been outlined by hospital leaders. The far-reaching plan builds on work already in place at the Royal Berkshire Hospital Foundation Trust and is aimed at reassuring people that everything possible is being done to make sure they are kept safe and well during the current Covid-19 outbreak.
There are four main strands to the plan:
-To reduce the number of people – patients, visitors and staff – on hospital sites.
-To increase and enhance the RBH’s capacity to treat patients.
-To reduce demand so the focus is on the patients most in need of help.
-To look after hard-working staff and make sure they have the equipment and facilities they need.
Measures have already been put in place to tackle these critically important areas:
-Many more people are being offered virtual outpatient clinic appointments to receive healthcare over the phone or via a laptop.
-Visitors have been restricted to one per patient per day.
-The hospital layout has been revised to establish separate zones to deal with the differing needs of patients and keep everyone safe.
-Intensive care capacity has increased from 14 to 34 beds.
-Elective surgery has been suspended to free up time for key staff to be retrained in other more urgent areas of work.
Now the next phase of the action plan is being implemented and this will mean more changes to the way the hospital works and the way patients and visitors will be asked to operate. In a bid to further reduce the number of people coming on to the hospital site, some services may be deferred, and other services may be moved to alternative private hospital settings. Children under the age of 12 will no longer be able to go to the RBH as visitors.
To increase capacity to deal with Covid-19 patients, there are plans to increase intensive care beds to 56 and health managers are in talks with the independent sector to move urgent surgery to private hospitals. Demand in A&E has seen a fall recently, but more needs to be done to ease the pressure on staff and an ‘Ask A&E’ online helpline service is being explored.
The welfare of staff is paramount in the action plan and senior management teams are looking at what more can be offered to ease the unprecedented demands facing all those working in the hospital – the clinicians and vital back up and support teams like cleaners, porters and admin employees.
Photo: Juan J Martinez.