Barts Health NHS Trust: Statement on the cornonavirus
23 March 2020
Barts Health NHS Trust would like to reassure all patients, staff, and visitors that we are working closely with NHS England and partners in line with national guidance to ensure we are prepared to deal with the changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic.
We are well equipped to meet the challenges ahead and are putting in additional plans to care for our patients at this time. We would like to offer our assurance that it remains safe for patients to attend our hospitals. We are working hard to treat and prioritise patients, while ensuring the safety of patients, staff and visitors. The following measures are being put in place:
Restricting the number of visitors - we have restricted access to essential visitors only immediately. Posters are displayed at all entrances to our hospitals and we have shared this information on our website, social media channels and switchboard.
- Increasing capacity - we are looking at ways to increase the capacity of our intensive care units. In outpatients, we have already started changing our regular face-to-face clinics to virtual appointments, which take place over the phone or online.
- Distancing patients – we are putting in additional measures for vulnerable people with respiratory or other conditions to ensure they are cared for away from those with the coronavirus.
- Postponing non-urgent surgery – in line with national guidance, we will, in stages, cancel almost all elective surgery (apart from cancer treatment and life-saving operations) for the next four months. This is an incredibly difficult decision but will enable us to free up beds and staff to treat Covid-19 patients.
Our pathology department is now able to conduct coronavirus tests. This means we will prioritise testing the patients admitted to our hospitals in line with guidance from Public Health England. We are also taking delivery of daily supplies of personal protective equipment and are working with the NHS supply chain to ensure stock levels are maintained. Our staff are also being asked to use the equipment responsibly.
We are supporting our staff with a range of guidance in order to ensure their welfare and resilience in providing the best possible care. Clinical colleagues will be asked to help with alternative tasks that they are qualified to perform, including supporting respiratory patients and operating ventilators rather than undertaking non-urgent operations.
We will continue to regularly update the Barts Health website. We are also advising anyone with concerns to visit NHS.UK/coronavirus for information about the virus and how to protect themselves. NHS 111 also has an online coronavirus service that can tell individuals if they need medical help and provide advice on what to do.
This is a fast-changing situation and we appreciate all the support we’ve been offered so far in these difficult times.