Channel 4 News took an exclusive look at the steps Barts Health NHS Trust has taken to maintain emergency surgery and restart planned operations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
St Bartholomew’s Hospital is one of two hubs that has provided Covid-free areas for emergency heart and lung surgery throughout the outbreak, as part of the Pan London Emergency Cardiac Surgery (PLECS) programme.
The other is Harefield Hospital.
Since 23 March, more than 350 people have received lifesaving operations, with no patients going on to experience Covid-related complications.
New protocols were developed especially for the programme, including pre-operative screening. They have been adopted by hospitals across the UK through the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgery.
Planned surgery, put on hold at the height of the pandemic, is restarting in stages throughout June across our hospitals, initially for patients whose health requires them to have an operation within four weeks.
Channel 4 News looked at changes introduced within our hospitals to keep these patients safe, while the coronavirus remains a threat to everyone’s health.
Before an operation, patients will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days to stop them from picking up or passing on the coronavirus.
Upon arrival at our hospitals, they will be cared for in green zones, which means they’ll be treated alongside other Covid-free patients.
Covid-19 patients are cared for in a dedicated blue zones, in separate parts of the hospital and with different staff.
St Bartholomew’s is mostly a green site.
All staff and visitors will wear face coverings, wash their hands often and maintain social distancing in order to maintain the highest standards of infection control.
There will also be regular testing of both groups.
Stephen Edmondson, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at St Bartholomew's, said:
"From the time we were tasked with providing this emergency life saving surgery by NHS England, this has been a brilliant collaborative effort by all members of the team at Barts Health who have worked tirelessly to offer the best possible care in very challenging circumstances.
"This programme has put us at the vanguard of delivering Covid protected heart and chest surgery to the people of London where we have seen surgical results with the same excellent outcomes as during non Covid times.
"The pathways and protocols we have developed and the lessons learned are proving invaluable as we begin the long road to restoration and recovery of elective surgery in our own and other specialties across Barts Health."
Watch Victoria Macdonald’s Channel 4 News report here.