We all know the country is facing one of the biggest threats to public health that we have ever had to face. And we know there is huge concern about how the NHS might cope.
We are only at the outset of this outbreak and already there are untrue stories circulating about how, as a Trust, we are coping. We think, in times of such uncertainty, it’s best to be as open as we can be, so we want share with you directly how Mid Yorkshire is preparing.
The first thing we want to say is that our fantastic staff have pulled out all the stops in the last few weeks to get the Trust as ready as we can be:
- We have significantly increased our capacity to provide intensive care - transforming theatre areas, installing new equipment and re-purposing some wards.
- We have freed up as many clinical staff as possible, who are now being trained by our specialists in how to care for patients with Covid-19.
- Our community services are working with our patients in the community, including liaising with care homes and nursing homes, and we are speeding up the discharge of patients who are medically fit to leave hospital.
- We look forward to welcoming doctors and nurses to the Trust who have been fast-tracked through the final stages of their training, as well as welcoming back recently retired doctors and nurses.
- We are rapidly recruiting new staff as support workers and appealing for volunteers to help support us.
Unfortunately, to achieve this means we have had to stop doing many procedures and out-patient appointments. We have contacted our patients as quickly as possible about this – our teams have made hundreds of phone calls and issued thousands of letters. We are still doing time-critical operations and out-patient appointments but we recognise this still leaves many of our patients uncertain and worried. We don’t know when we will be able to start doing routine work again but it will be as soon as it possibly can be.
In the meantime, we have set up a Cancer Helpline for our cancer patients who need particular advice and support. You can access the details here.
We are already caring for Covid-19 patients at our Pinderfields site and, unfortunately, the numbers of patients who have tested positive for the virus as well as those who have sadly died is rising. Extensive planning has gone into how we separate our Covid patients from others for everyone’s protection, and our staff are taking every precaution possible to help prevent the spread of the virus. We have a regular supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) coming into the Trust from Government-managed supply routes.
We understand our most vulnerable patients and their families are especially concerned about the risks. The Trust is in the fortunate position that we have three hospital sites, which means we have been able to move our oncology inpatients and day cases, along with our neurology and stroke rehabilitation services, to our Pontefract site. And services for our elderly patients who do not have Covid have been relocated to Dewsbury and District Hospital. Though this has meant significant upheaval, the idea is to help shield the most vulnerable.
We cannot predict what will happen with this outbreak and we can’t promise that our preparations will be enough. But we can promise that Mid Yorkshire staff, along with all other NHS staff, are leaving their own families, putting themselves on the frontline and giving their all to care for patients in the best way we can during this unprecedented challenge.
In return, our staff’s ask to our community is that you all play your part in helping to stop the spread of this virus and to protect the NHS. Stay at home, observe social distancing rules when not at home, wash your hands, and use the NHS responsibly – it will save lives.
We’ll do our best to keep you posted so please check back for updates.