Hospital staff in Milton Keynes are ready to deal with a second wave of COVID-19 if the Government’s latest semi-lockdown measures don’t work, a meeting heard.
Milton Keynes Hospital virtual annual members’ meeting was told that there are signs that the infection is circulating in the community but on Tuesday they did not have anyone with COVID in intensive care.
Members of the public, including the local democracy reporter, took the opportunity to ask questions at the annual meeting which was hosted virtually for the first time.
“The hope is that through the measures that were put in place, we will prevent there being a major spike in the way that we saw in March and April,” said Dr Ian Reckless, the hospital’s medical director.
“The hospital hasn’t seen a major uplift in COVID cases. We have one or two people a week coming in with confirmed COVID but they aren’t going on to the intensive care unit.”
Even though the hospital cared for the second person in the UK to die of the coronavirus infection at the start of the outbreak, there have been no deaths attributed to COVID-19 at the hospital for “many weeks”, the meeting heard.
And Danielle Petch, the director of workforce, said that staff had been encouraged to take their annual leave in the summer months so they would be refreshed and raring to go.
“It was a fantastic effort through the whole of COVID to look after the patients in Milton Keynes,” she said.
“Are our staff in a good place? Yes, they are,” she added.
“They have taken their leave to rest and recharge because they did go above and beyond.
“They are in a good place to deal with it in the autumn and winter,” she said.
During the national lockdown earlier this year, the hospital introduced a support package for staff.
It included a “safe space” for them to take a rest on the hospital site, as well as food and drink and emotional support.
The meeting was told that the same support packages could be brought back in.
One of the knock-on effects of having to deal with COVID is a drop off in GP referrals, a backlog of people needing planned operations, and increases in waiting times.
Professor Joe Harrison, the hospital chief executive, said they are looking to deal with that as “quickly as we can”.
He said patients arriving at the hospital are divided into COVID and non-COVID “pathways” so that people are not exposed to contamination.
Emma Livesley, the chief operations officer, said the creation of “green and red pathways” is helping them to slowly build up activity at the hospital.
She added that the hospital is working seven days a week to “clear the backlog as soon as we can” by treating patients in priority order.