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Hospitals ready to respond to second wave of Covid-19

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WARRINGTON and Halton Hospitals are ready to respond in the event of a second wave of Covid-19 infections.
But over the next 3-6 months, the plan is for the Trust to continue to reinstate normal activity in line with national guidance and when it is clinically safe to do so.
This is made clear in a report by Professor Simon Constable, chief executive of the Trust, to the Warrington Health and Wellbeing Board, to be considered on July 16.
Virtual clinics and other technological innovations will be reflected in the planning of new hospital infrastructure, both in Warrington and Halton.
Feedback from staff and patients has been positive for these developments, and they have been essential in keeping patients safe.
The Trust is pressing ahead with plans to develop the Cheshire and Merseyside Treatment Centre (CMTC) at Runcorn as an elective hub.
This will be a “Covid-19 light” site, enabling additional elective activity to take place on the site and minimise the impact of Covid-19 on elective hospital activity. The Trust will expand opportunities to develop “Covid-19 light” sites.
Professor Constable says this increasingly will include the maximisation of opportunities to deliver services in community settings where appropriate – in line with the NHS Long Term Plan).
Warrington and Halton Hospitals (WHH) will continue to work with partners to manage demand across a wider geography, and this will become increasingly important in a post-Covid-19 landscape as capacity is impacted by new ways of working.
The report explains that following the national major incident being declared in response to Covid-19 on March 3, WHH instigated level 4 incident control and management.
From then on elective surgery started to be reduced to support planning and preparedness of the anticipated impact of Covid-19. This was to release staff for refresher training, release bed capacity for Covid-19 patients and theatres/recovery facilities for adaptation work.
On March 17 official notification was received instructing the Trust to plan to postpone all non-urgent elective operations from April 15 at the latest, for a period of at least three months.
However, emergency admissions, cancer treatment and other clinically urgent services continued unaffected.
On March 20, Radiology specialty guidance was issued instructing a pause on all non-urgent examinations. All cancer and urgent examinations continued within the normal turnaround times.
The peak of Covid-19 cases in WHH was 124 on April 24.A peak of 24 patients with COVID-19 in critical care occurred on April 8
No clinicians worked outside of their professional capabilities, however staff were redeployed to support the Trust’s response.
The report states: “Staffing levels have remained at safe levels throughout the pandemic. Total staff sickness absence, including shielding, self-isolation and non-COVID-19 related absence, peaked at just over 17 per cent
In line with national guidance, WHH reduced its elective activity to only Cancer Fast Track (CFT) and clinically urgent cases.
To support these cases safely, WHH utilised three theatres for five days per week at the private Spire Warrington hospital from April 3 and this arrangement will continue until the end of August.

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