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Guy’s & St Thomas' boss: NHS COVID-19 recovery will take 'years'

London SE1 website team

The boss of Guy's and St Thomas' says that attending to patients whose treatment was delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic is the "biggest challenge" facing the hospitals - and warns that it will take "years" for the NHS to recover from the last year.

Guy’s & St Thomas' boss: NHS COVID-19 recovery will take 'years'

Professor Ian Abbs, chief executive of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, has revealed that the number of COVID-19 patients being treated at the hospitals had dropped to five by last Wednesday, with four of those requiring intensive care.

At times in January there were more than 400 COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospitals.

In his written report for this week's meeting of the trust board, Professor Abbs also notes that Guy's and St Thomas' has now vaccinated nearly four out of every five staff.

"Analysis of the current workforce data indicates that there is significant variability in uptake across different ethnic and staff groups and we know we still have more work to do to increase staff uptake of the vaccine.

"Our priorities for staff vaccine uptake are to ensure that all trust staff have access to the COVID -19 vaccine and the information they need to make an informed choice.

"As an organisation we are continuing to work hard to understand and address the key drivers behind the barriers to vaccine uptake."

Turning to the future, Professor Abbs wrote: "The biggest challenge for our organisation now is to treat patients who were delayed during the pandemic.

"Therefore, our primary focus is to treat as many patients as is safely possible across all specialities going forward , and since February the trust has worked incredibly hard to steadily increase diagnostic, outpatient and surgical activity."

"Most recently this hard work has been reflected in the recovery of activity throughout April, where we have averaged 71 per cent of business as usual (BAU) levels in elective activity, 85 per cent in outpatients and 93 per cent in diagnostics.

"The trust has also seen a reduction in diagnostic waiting times with 14.5 per cent of patients waiting over 6 weeks for a diagnostic test in March compared to 21 per cent in February and down from a peak of 66 per cent in April 2020.

"The number of patients waiting over 52 weeks for treatment has also started to decrease with a reduction of over 400 patients from the peak in February."

He added: "It is clear that as a trust, a health system and a nation we are on a journey to recovery that will take a number of years, and it will be through the dedication and collective work we do as the NHS and as a country that we will be able to continue to recover from the devastating impacts of this global pandemic."

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