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Hospitals stress-test demand for beds amid coronavirus second wave

PUBLISHED: 16:53 14 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:53 14 October 2020

Health bosses say they have stress tested bed capacity at the county's hospitals ahead of this winter. Picture: ARCHANT

Health bosses say they have stress tested bed capacity at the county's hospitals ahead of this winter. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Anticipated demand for hospital beds this winter has been stress-tested amid a second wave of Covid-19, health chief have said.

Nuffield Hospital in Ipswich has been delivering around 80 procedures a week for NHS patients to help manage bed capacity for critical care patients at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ARCHANTNuffield Hospital in Ipswich has been delivering around 80 procedures a week for NHS patients to help manage bed capacity for critical care patients at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ARCHANT

And they hope to be able to continue non-Covid related services, some of which had to cease during the first lockdown.

Clinical commissioning groups on Wednesday told Suffolk County Council’s health scrutiny committee that modelling had been carried out for anticipated numbers of beds needed, with private hospitals used to help carry out non-Covid procedures in recent weeks.

MORE: Ipswich Hospital plans for elective surgery to continue during second coronavirus spike

At Nuffield in Ipswich, 80 operations per week are being carried out on behalf of the NHS according to Nicola Brunning, deputy director of performance and contracts at the CCGs.

BMI St Edmunds Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, has been facilitating around 20 procedures per week.

Those include hip and knee replacements, endoscopy and diagnostic appointments among others.

Those had helped keep demand open for critical care beds and Covid-19 patients, with regular reviews of those arrangements taking place.

Paul Gibara, director of performance at the CCGs, said a lot of work had been undertaken to prepare for this winter.

“The modelling of bed capacity is crucially important,” he said.

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“We have done a lot of modelling and stress testing on our services going forward – we have given a lot of thought to this and are carefully monitoring it.”

Darren Maguire, who manages winter pressures at the CCGs, said: “We are looking to maximise bed capacity.

“We were quite fortunate that during the first wave we didn’t ever run out of beds, there were always beds available should they be needed, but it is important as we move into this second wave that we consider how do we flex that between Covid and non-Covid demand.

“We know that we turned a lot of services off in order to deal with what was an unprecedented worldwide situation.

“This time around we are looking to balance that a lot more to maintain that non-Covid demand, but of course we are still guessing as to how much of an impact we might see in this area of Covid.”

Other measures include bolstered video appointment capacity, means of helping people remain in their own homes and ‘discharge hubs’ to better manage patients leaving hospital.

Hospitals are already tackling the backlog in procedures which had to be put on hold when the Covid-19 lockdown measures were first introduced, with the plans for services to continue hoping to prevent a more significant waiting list building up.

It came amid a national warning that some health services would struggle to manage the workload, as increasing coronavirus cases and the regular winter illnesses combined to put further pressure on stretched services.

Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation told the Press Association: “At the best of times when winter comes there is a surge and often the NHS has to work very hard to keep up with demand.

“What we are anticipating this year is that there will be that winter surge and on top of that a Covid-19 surge.”


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