A number of services which were postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are being restored across University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT).
The Trust is now moving into the second phase of its coronavirus response which will see several services being restored over the coming weeks and months.
Teams across the Trust have been working hard to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and ensure safety and quality of services for all patients.
Along with the rest of the NHS, the number one priority for the last few months has been ensuring that everyone who needs urgent care – not just those with the virus – gets it.
To enable this to happen and to help reduce the spread of the virus, some non-urgent surgery and appointments were postponed and other appointments were delivered in a different way such as via telephone and video clinics.
The Trust has already started to see some of the patients awaiting urgent elective procedures including endoscopy, dermatological surgery and day surgery for procedures that support cancer pathways such as infusions.
Ophthalmology outpatient and surgery services are being restored as are orthopaedic surgery, ultrasound and x-ray services in Ulverston, home birth services and colposcopy clinics.
In the next couple of weeks the Trust is planning to restore the rest of the routine work it carries out including clinical investigation unit work, stroke and frailty ambulatory care services, breast screening services and virtual fracture clinics.
Telephone and video clinics will continue wherever possible so that patients don’t have to make unnecessary trips to hospital.
Outpatient appointments, in the main, will continue to be provided by phone or video conference.
Throughout the pandemic cancer services have continued to be offered with the exception of screening (breast, bowel and cervical), colonoscopy (routine and surveillance), upper gastrointestinal and some other investigations that are used for cancer pathways. The Trust is gradually restoring some of these services over the coming weeks with bowel cancer screening already re-opened.
Clinicians across the Trust are currently reviewing patients awaiting an appointment in the light of national guidance to determine who should be offered an appointment now and who can be deferred to a later date. The plans are being produced in partnership with the Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System to ensure all patients in the area have fair and equal access to care.
The Trust has also put measures into place to support the safety of staff, patients and visitors who need to attend its hospitals and community settings. These measures ensure that patients with suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus will continue to be cared for on designated wards across the Trust.
Patients awaiting planned surgery will be required to self-isolate for 14 days prior to coming into hospital and will be tested for coronavirus before their procedure goes ahead in line with the Trust’s policy to test all patients on admission or before surgery.
Hand washing facilities and hand gel are available at all of the Trust’s main hospitals and community settings and schedules of enhanced cleaning of public areas have been increased. Relevant wards have been reviewed to ensure there is at least two metres between the beds to allow for social distancing. Everyone visiting UHMBT’s sites is required to wear a face covering and staff must wear face masks. Further information on this is available on this link: https://www.uhmb.nhs.uk/news-and-events/latest-news/use-face-coverings-when-coming-hospital
Testing of symptomatic staff and family members will continue as per current guidelines and additional capacity is in place to enable routine testing of staff in frontline roles showing no symptoms will support infection prevention and control measures.
Access to antibody testing is also available to Trust staff and, so far 8,783 members of staff have registered to take part in the initiative. This will help to build understanding and knowledge of coronavirus and inform the clinical approach. Stringent antibody testing and testing for COVID-19 is also taking place in care homes and nursing homes.
Kate Maynard, Interim Director of Operations for UHMBT, said: “Throughout the pandemic our main priority has been to ensure that all patients requiring urgent care have received the treatment and care they have needed.
“We are now in a position to cautiously and safely start to restore some of the services that we have had to delay because our teams have been focusing on the COVID-19 response.
“We wish to thank our patients and their families for their understanding and patience during this highly challenging time. We also wish to reassure everyone that safety and infection prevention measure are at the core of our plans to reinstate services.”