Regular services are starting to return to normal at Shropshire’s main hospitals now the coronavirus pandemic has “stabilised”, the trust’s chief executive has said.
“As many patients as possible” will be treated by the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust for cancer and other urgent conditions, chief executive Louise Barnett writes, but she adds that reopening will be a “complex process”.
In her report for the trust’s board, she adds that the increase in telephone appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic has been “positively received” by patients and staff.
In a separate document, also due to be discussed on Thursday, May 28, lead Freedom to Speak Up guardian Kate Adney writes that 34 coronavirus-related whistleblower reports were received during a two-month, including 12 about personal protective equipment.
Ms Barnett writes that she sits on the trust’s COVID-19 committee, which meets on a weekly basis.
“The trust continues to take actions with reference to the national guidance,” she writes.
“During the initial phase we, alongside other NHS organisations, reduced or paused a number of services to ensure we freed up maximum capacity to deal with the anticipated surge in the cases during the pandemic.
“Currently, the picture is more stable and the trust is in the process of restoring a number of services to ensure that as many patients as possible are able to receive care and treatment, particularly in terms of cancer and urgent care pathways.
“This is a complex process which we are working through alongside our local health and care partner organisations to ensure that all aspects of care, both in and out of hospital, are considered during this restoration phase.”
“Plans focus on the prioritisation of services to restore, patients’ needs and ensuring the appropriate care for patients who are confirmed to have or not have COVID-19, and those treated as suspected to have it.
“We have significantly changed the way we work in a number of areas, for example moving to telephone and virtual follow-up outpatient appointments, where this is appropriate.
“Early feedback suggests many of these changes have been positively received by both patients and staff.”
The walk-in phlebotomy services at the Princess Royal Hospital, Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Bridgnorth’s and Whitchurch’s community hospitals have been halted “to ensure we have sufficient staff to provide a safe service and to minimise the risk to patients and staff”.
“However, blood tests are still being provided where there is an essential need and by appointment.
“These arrangements will be kept under review.”
Ms Adney’s report says coronavirus-related whistleblowing concerns, received between March 20 and May 19, have fallen into eight categories. Of these, “personal protective equipment / infection prevention and control” has the highest number, at 12. “Behaviours” was second, with five, and “Emotional and wellbeing support”, “Patient safety” and “Working from home” were joint-third, with four.
“Every concern has been escalated and appropriate action taken in a timely manner with additional communications and support for staff to speak up,” Ms Adney writes.