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COVID-19: 10 things we learnt from boss of Guy’s and St Thomas'

London SE1 website team

Guy's and St Thomas' chief executive Dr Ian Abbs has published a report on how SE1's hospitals have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. We've picked out 10 key points.

COVID-19: 10 things we learnt from boss of Guy’s and St Thomas'

"I have seen first-hand the way our staff have responded to the pandemic and have had the opportunity to meet many of our staff to see the brilliant work, and transformational change that has allowed the organisation to respond effectively, safely and strategically to this crisis," wrote Dr Ian Abbs in his report for Wednesday's virtual board meeting of the NHS trust.

"The inspiring and collective response I have seen from colleagues over the past few months is just one of the reasons I feel incredibly proud and privileged to lead Guy's and St Thomas'."

Dr Abbs' report contained a few new pieces of information about the effect of COVID-19 on local health services.

We've picked out some of the key points from Dr Abbs' report

1. Number of COVID-19 patients treated

"At the time of this report ( 16/04/2020) the trust has treated over 1,000 admitted patients who have tested positive to COVID -19. Sadly the number of deaths reported within our trust is 109 and I would like to send my personal condolences to the patients' families and loved ones for their loss during an incredibly challenging time."

2. Extra critical care units created

"To ensure the trust has sufficient critical care capacity to meet the increased demand this virus is placing on our critical care environment, and in particularly ventilator capacity, we have transformed and converted a number of our clinical areas, including our operating theatres and recovery areas into critical care units to increase the number of Level 3 ITU and Level 2 HDU beds available.

"The medical wards, as well as those normally devoted to other specialities, have also been reconfigured to provide care to COVID -19 positive patients who require hospital level care. To date the trust has had sufficient capacity to meet the demand being placed on critical care and general and acute medical beds."

3. Staff redeployed to new roles

"Our clinical staffing model changed across our medical, nursing and allied health teams, with many of our staff provided additional training to allow safe redeployment into the areas of increased demand.

"Similarly, many non-clinical staff have also been trained and redeployed to undertake new roles where they are needed most."

4. Support for recovering patients

"Our community colleagues are also working with our patients who have been discharged following a diagnosis of coronavirus.

"We have discharged over 900 patients admitted with coronavirus to date, and, as they recover, the clinical teams in the hospital and in the community are working together to ensure these patients have access to the support and rehabilitation they need as they continue to recover."

5. Virtual clinics for non-COVID-19 patients

"We have implemented virtual clinic appointments where possible to ensure we are still able to clinically review as many patients as possible without bringing them into the hospital environment where this can be avoided.

"We have also set up call centres staffed by clinical teams to ensure we are available to answer any question or concern our patients may have."

6. 'Sufficient supply' of PPE

"To ensure the safety of our staff, the trust has asked all staff in close contact with patients to wear PPE in accordance with national guidance.

"The trust has implemented a number of training programmes to ensure staff know which PPE is appropriate to wear in different settings and how to safely put on and remove different types of PPE.

"Our procurement and finance department have worked incredibly hard with colleagues across the NHS, Department of Health, Ministry of Defence and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on the national response to secure additional supplies from around the world, including China, for our organisation and the wider NHS.

"Utilising a combination of our own internally sourced PPE and what has been provided via the NHS Supply chain, the trust currently has sufficient supply of PPE to protect and ensure the safety of our staff caring for patients in our hospitals and in the community."

7. COVID-19 tests for staff and household members

"We are committed to providing our staff with access to testing and staff, or their household members, who are displaying symptoms of coronavirus, can be tested at the O2 Arena at Greenwich or on site at St Thomas'.

"The combination of these services provides our staff, or their household members' access to testing on foot, on bike or arriving by car, but not by using public transport. To address the accessibility issues for staff who do not have access to a car we have also implemented a targeted mobile staff testing service."

Dr Abbs added: "So far over 400 people have been tested at the O2 and at St Thomas'."

8. Hundreds of staff away from work due to COVID-19

We are monitoring the number of staff who are away from work as a result of COVID -19, which includes those who are symptomatic, shielded, or who are self -isolating for 2 weeks as a result of a household member displaying symptoms.

"The number of staff away from work in the symptomatic or self-isolating category has been steadily reducing from a peak of around 1600 staff in early April to around 600 on April 14th .

"We have recently seen a slight increase in the numbers of staff away from work who are displaying coronavirus symptoms. This could be as a result of contracting the virus from a household member after a period of isolation.

"We are investigating this change and comparing trends with other trusts."

9. Kindness and generosity

"What has been amazing to see and feel during this period of time, is the generosity of people.

"We have been absolutely inundated with donations from individuals and various businesses in the UK and across the world.

"All of the kind donations have contributed to making what is an incredibly challenging time a little easier for our staff and I would like to thank everyone who has donated in some way to our organisation.

"The coordination of the generous donations to ensure all of our staff are benefiting from the kindness of the wider community has been organised by a number of our clinical and corporate support service staff.

"I would like to thank these colleagues who have helped to spread the kindness of the wider community amongst the Guy's and St Thomas' family."

10. Guy's & St Thomas' Charity releases £1 million for staff welfare

"...the charity has released £1 million from its charitable fund to support the trust's COVID-19 response, particularly wellbeing initiatives for staff."

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